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Centre de soins hospitaliers de Marsens, Fribourg
The Marsens Collection

Marsens Psychiatric Hospital was built in 1875 on the site of a former Jesuit monastery situated in rural surroundings. After lengthy deliberations, the Great Council of Canton Fribourg decided to erect a “pavillon”—a very modern structure in those days—for 60 to 80 patients. In 1890, the number of patients rose to 160, and in 1960, after several extensions, to 500. The number of patients admitted to Marsens has decreased since and the hospital now has around 170 patients. According to the current state of research, no psychiatrist or clinic director at the former “Asile des Aliénés de Marsens,” now known as the “Réseau Fribourgeois de Santé Mentale” (RFSM), made a conscious effort to collect the works of patients, as Hans Steck had done at the Cery Psychiatric Clinic in Lausanne, or Charles Ladame at Belair Mental Hospital in Geneva, or Walter Morgenthalter at Waldau Psychiatric Clinic in Bern. In the year 2000, the works of Gaspar Corpataux (1838–1917), a patient at Marsens from 1880 to 1917 came into the possession of the Collection de l’Art Brut in Lausanne. As part of its preparations for an exhibition hosted in 2008, the Collection commissioned a research project in the clinic’s archives (Lucienne Peiry, Jessica Schupbach). Project work discovered the works, drawings, and above all the writings of around 14 patients, of which 45 works were shown at the Collection de l’Art Brut in an exhibition dedicated to “Art Brut Fribourgeios” in 2009. Some of those exhibits are now part of the permanent collection, while others are on loan. Apart from Gaspar Corpataux, the artists include Pierre-Maurice B. (1873–1967), Joséphine-Antonie Gaillard Aebischer (1903–1984), Meinrad L. (1859– ?), Marguerite P. (1905– ?), Justine Python (1879– ?), Louis R. (1894–1949), and Frédéric U. (1878–1929).


2009 “L’Art Brut fribourgeois”, Collection de l’Art Brut, Lausanne, 6.2.-18.10.2009, Dir. Lucienne Peiry


Art Brut fribourgeois, catalogue d’exposition sous la dir. de Lucienne Peiry, Collection de l’Art Brut/La Sarine, Lausanne/Fribourg, 2008

Collection de l’Art Brut, Peiry Lucienne (Hg.), Art brut fribourgeois, Beiträge von Isabelle Bezzi, Michel Veyre, Pascal Marini, Jessica Schupbach, Michel Thévoz [et al.], Fribourg, 2008

Fragnière, Claude, La création de l’asile d’aliénés de Marsens : aspects techniques et administratifs, [Fribourg], [s.n.], 1992

Fussinger, Catherine, Tevaearai, Deodaat, Lieux de folie. Monuments de raison, Architecture et psychiatrie en Suisse romande 1830–1930. Lausanne 1998

La parole aux écrits bruts, CD produit à l’occasion de l’exposition “Aloïse. Le ricochet solaire”, Collection de l’Art Brut/Radio Télévision Suisse (RTS), Lausanne, 2012

Marsens, 1875-2000, plaquette établie par l’hôpital de Marsens pour ses 125 ans

Rémy, Maurice, Le centenaire de Marsens, de l’asile à l’hôpital 1875-1975, Fribourg, [s.n.], 1975

Schupbach, Jessica, Le visage épistolaire de Justine : écrire à Marsens entre 1883 et 1885,
Cahiers du Musée gruérien. – 2019/12/107