H. R. Giger was a Swiss artist remembered for his airbrushed images of machines and humans intertwined in cold biomechanical relationships. He is also remembered for his work as part of the special effects team that worked in Ridley Scott's 1979 science fiction horror film Alien, for which the team won an Academy Award.
Alberto Giacometti was a Swiss painter, sculptor, printmaker, and draftsman. Widely regarded as one of the 20th century's most important sculptors, Giacometti's career and his friendship with American writer James Lord inspired the 2017 British-American drama film Final Portrait, in which Alberto Giacometti is portrayed by Australian actor Geoffrey Roy Rush.
Swiss artist Henry Fuseli is remembered for the drama and sensuality showcased in his paintings. Though born to a landscape and portrait painter, he was initially taught theology. After leaving the country due to political risks, he made it to Britain and Italy. He later contributed to the Boydell Shakespeare Gallery.
Swiss-French artist Sophie Taeuber-Arp initially studied textile design and later began creating multimedia art called Duo-Collages, along with her husband, German-French abstract artist Jean Arp. Apart from teaching at an art and craft school, the Dadaist had also used dance, painting, and sculpture to showcase her artistic talent.
One of the two women founder members of London’s Royal Academy, Angelica Kauffman was born to a painter father in Switzerland and was quite a prodigy, who mastered several languages and the arts of music and painting quite quickly. The history painter is best remembered for her landscapes and portraits.
Though born to a silk trader, Arnold Böcklin ditched his family business and deviated toward art instead. Initially part of the Düsseldorf school of painting, the Symbolist painter later found inspiration in Rome and infused mythological elements in his art. Isle of the Dead and Pan in the Bulrushes remain his best-known works.
Swiss expressionist painter Johannes Itten developed his own color theories. Before joining the German art school Bauhaus, he had received elementary school teachers’ training. He often skipped correcting his students’ mistakes, fearing it might spoil their creative impulse. He followed the neo-Zoroastrian fire cult Mazdaznan and practiced meditation and vegetarianism.
Though a qualified psychologist, Milo Moire is more popular as a porn actor and a performance artist who uses the female form for her art pieces. From creating abstract art by throwing out paint-filled eggs from her vagina, to walking around cities, asking passers-by to touch her breasts, she has done it all.
Born in Switzerland, Félix Vallotton later moved to Paris to study art and grew to be one of the prominent members of the Les Nabis. Renowned for his woodcuts, he mostly focused on nudes and interiors. Politically conscious, he often infused political themes in his art, such as The Demonstration.
Known for his advertisement designs and abstract art, Swiss graphic designer and artist Max Bill was initially trained as a silversmith. He later also taught art in Switzerland and Germany. He not only established the Ulm School of Design, but also designed its building and its academic programs.
Pipilotti Rist is a Swiss visual artist renowned for producing experimental installation art and video art. Categorized as feminist art, Rist's artwork is also described as abstract art, intimate, and surreal. Over the years, Pipilotti Rist's work has earned her prestigious awards like the Wolfgang Hahn Prize, Joan Miró Prize, and Best Architects '11 Award.
A pioneering figure of outside art, or Art Brut, Swiss artist Adolf Wölfli had a traumatic childhood after being abandoned by his father. Following his mother’s death, he grew up in foster homes. Arrested for an attempted assault and riddled with schizophrenia, he penned a memoir that contained his art, music, and poetry.
Part of the Nouveau Réalisme art movement, Swiss sculptor Jean Tinguely developed a form of kinetic art known as metamatics, which consisted of self-destructing sculptures. Homage to New York, installed at the Museum of Modern Art was one of his best-known works. He ridiculed man’s dependence on technology through his works.
Swiss conceptual artist Urs Fischer uses sculptures and installations to explore themes traditionally associated with painting, such as nudes and still lifes. His artworks, such as What if the Phone Rings, are often self-destructing. He had initially worked as a bouncer in clubs to support his photography lessons.
American-Swiss artist Christian Marclay has revolutionized art by inventing turntablism, a method of manipulating sounds. He is also known for his unusual art installations, such as the video The Clock, a compilation of film scenes featuring clocks, which eventually won him the Golden Lion at the 2011 Venice Biennale.
Swiss-born French-origin painter is best remembered for his pastel portraits. Having spent a considerable part of his career in Constantinople, he adopted Turkish costumes and sported a beard, thus earning the nickname the Turkish painter when he traveled to Vienna. His portraits include those of Empress Maria Theresa and the Princess of Wales.
Orphaned at 12, Ferdinand Hodler moved to Thurn to assist a well-known local painter, and at 18, he began his artistic career in Geneva. Remembered for his iconic pieces such as Die Nacht, he specialized in portraits and landscapes. His signature style included linear symmetry.
The youngest daughter of the Egyptian king Farouk I, Princess Fadia escaped to Italy and then to Switzerland after his father was deposed in the 1952 Egyptian Revolution. She later established herself as a talented painter and an equestrian. Well-versed in multiple languages, she also worked as a translator.
Gunta Stölzl created history when she became the first female master at the Bauhaus. While she initially studied applied arts, such as glass and mural paintings and ceramics, she also volunteered as a Red Cross nurse during World War I. She later focused on hand-woven tapestries and also owned a weaving mill.
Best known for his expedition to North America, accompanying explorer Prince Maximilian, artist Karl Bodmer created realistic illustrations of various North American natives for Maximilian’s book. Initially trained in art by his engraver uncle, he later became a major figure of the French Barbizon School of art.
Swiss artist Anton Graff is remembered for his state portraits of various Saxon rulers. A self-portrait that he sent to Dresden earned him the positions of the court painter of Saxony and the portrait painting teacher at the Dresden Art Academy. He was a major figure of the Neoclassical movement in art.
Though born in Switzerland, engraver Matthäus Merian mostly worked in Germany. Best remembered for his topographical works, he also worked for the publishing house of J. T. de Bry and later married his daughter, taking over the business. His work took him to places such as Paris, Basle, and Nancy.
One of the most prominent Swiss artists of the 20th century, René Auberjonois was part of the post-impressionist era. Born to affluent parents, he experimented with music and caricature, before choosing painting as his vocation. He was also the grandfather of American actor René Auberjonois, known as Odo from Star Trek.
Best remembered for his still lifes, Swiss painter Albert Anker is regarded as Switzerland’s national painter. While he initially studied theology, he later deviated toward art. Sleeping Girl in Walde and Still Life: Tea Set remain 2 of his best-known works. He also became a knight of the Légion d'honneur.
Swiss Art Nouveau designer and artist Eugène Grasset was the son of a carpenter and sculptor. While he initially studied architecture, he was later inspired by the artworks of Japan and Egypt and worked as a painter, sculptor, and decorative artist in Paris. He also designed posters, postcards, and stamps.
Romanian-born Swiss artist Daniel Spoerri is best known for creating snare-pictures, which consist of object bits, usually tableware, attached to a board and put up on the wall. Interestingly, he had initially studied classical dance and had even been the State Opera of Bern’s lead dancer. He is associated with the Fluxus movement.
Swiss cartoonist Rodolphe Topffer is remembered as the pioneer of comic strips. The son of a caricaturist, he initially taught at and ran a boarding school, where he first began drawing caricatures to attract his students’ attention. He also taught literature at the University of Geneva.
Painter Cuno Amiet is largely credited with bringing in modern art to Switzerland. Known for his signature use of color dots and pastel shades, he created more then 1,000 self-portraits and countless landscapes. Associated with the expressionist movement, he later became part of Swiss Federal Art Commission.
An occultist who led the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, Moina Mathers was the sister of Nobel Prize-winning philosopher Henri Bergson. Apart from serving as a priestess and performing rituals for her husband’s magical order, she also devoted herself to art. She later launched the Alpha et Omega Lodge.
Born to a goldsmith, Urs Graf was initially trained by his father. He later created countless artworks, mostly engravings, etchings, woodcuts, and drawings. A mercenary, he often included military themes in his creations. Woman Bathing Her Feet, his etching from 1513, was one of his best-known works.
Swiss artist Hans Erni is best remembered for his commissioned artworks. He designed posters, Olympic medals, and postage stamps and drew several murals for renowned organizations such as the UN and the Red Cross. It is rumored, several bank notes designed by him were not printed due to his Communist propaganda.
One of the greatest 16th-century illustrators, Swiss-born artist Jost Amman later moved to Germany, where he created most of his artworks. He had also initially designed glass paintings. His engravings and woodcuts include scenes from history, hunting, and warfare. Das Ständebuch was one of his best-known works.
Uruguayan-born artist Jill Mulleady received her art education in London and now lives and works in LA. Known for her symbolically rich paintings, she depicts known locations and people, such as authors and artists, in dreamy scenarios. She also designs the galleries where her paintings are exhibited.
Born to a publisher and bookseller, Salomon Gessner initially focused on landscape painting and etching and later devoted himself to poetry and pastoral prose. He co-founded the Helvetic Society and also served as a town councillor. Idyllen and Der Tod Abels remain his most significant written works.
Not much is known about artist Franz Anton Bustelli’s early life, except that he worked at a porcelain factory. One of the greatest figures of the Rococo style of art, he created porcelain figures of gods, street vendors, and even Oriental characters. His signature style included the use of rich colors.
One of the most significant Swiss-born French authors, Jacques Chessex scripted history as the first Swiss author to win the French prize Prix Goncourt, for his novel L'Ogre. He had a heart attack and collapsed while discussing a play at a public event and died shortly after.
Niklaus Manuel Deutsch was not just a soldier and a statesman from Switzerland, but also a talented painter. A major figure of Swiss Renaissance art, he was initially inspired by Italian painters and later included mythological and spiritual themes in his works such as Pyramus and Thisbe.
Remembered as the first Swiss actor to make it big in Hollywood, Max Haufler was initially trained as a painter. Known for his iconic roles such as those of Barbarossa in Hinter den sieben Gleisen, he also turned to direction. Failing to raise money for an ambitious project, he eventually hung himself.
The son of a renowned sculptor and architect, Jean Petitot grew up to be a pioneering enamel miniature portratist. He was patronized by Charles I of England and Louis XIV of France. Following the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, he had also been imprisoned for a while.
Born in Austria-Hungary, or present-day Romania, celebrated sculptor Zoltan Kemeny became the only Hungarian to score a win at the Venice Biennale. Trained in carpentry and architecture, he also worked as a fashion designer, before settling in Switzerland, where he became popular for his metal reliefs.
Initially trained as a printer, Hans Aeschbacher later learned drawing, painting, and sculpting by himself. Using terra-cotta, plaster, and stone, he crested abstract masterpieces such as Abstract Faces. He later also used porous lava rock and sculpted giant artworks, some of which were almost 15 feet high.
Swiss scientist and politician Hans Conrad Escher von der Linth was also a talented artist. He led the Great Council of the Helvetic Republic as its president and co-launched the reformist journal Schweizer Republikaner. His best-known projects remain the survey of the Swiss Alps and his plan to tame the Linth river.