Aloïse Corbaz (1886-1964) is one of the few female Outsider Artists to receive widespread international acclaim. Born in Lausanne, Switzerland, Corbaz completed a traditional education before finding work as a governess at the court of Kaiser Wilhelm II in Potsdam, where she fell into an imagined love affair with the monarch. This feeling of infatuation would later infiltrate her art in the form of passionate, embracing couples as seen in Dancing Bernina. She returned to Lausanne at the onset of WWI, and was institutionalized in 1918. Corbaz made art in secret from within the Clinique de la Rosière, Gimel-sur-Morges, Switzerland, until 1936, when Dr. Hans Steck noticed and began to preserve her drawings. Dancing Bernina/ Milo Martin was in Dr. Steck’s personal collection until his death.
Often dominated by embracing couples, flowers and decorative elements, Corbaz’s works are intimate romantic fantasies. Her figures are characterized by large, oval blue eyes that were, according to the artist, not eyes but a form of disguise. She noted, “They [the figures] were embarrassed when it came to kissing, so they wear glasses.” (Roger Cardinal, Outsider Art (New York, 1972), p. 169).
Artist Jean Dubuffet was a great advocate for untrained artmakers and coined the term art brut, meaning, literally, “raw art.” He dedicated himself to discovering and promoting the work of artists who created on the margins of society, and believed these artists produced truly great and challenging oeuvres. Dubuffet first saw Corbaz’s work around 1946, and visited her on multiple occasions. Corbaz’s art is represented in his Collection de l’Art Brut, now housed in Lausanne.