Oct. 4, 2012
-- Robert Wehrlin, of Swiss origin, started training in Davos in 1922 with Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. As early 1924, he then set up in Paris in the Montparnasse neighborhood where he studied with André Lhote and Jacques Vilon.
An excellent colorist and talented illustrator, Wehrlin set himself apart with a virtuosic etching technique which earned him a nomination in 1937 to La Jeune Gravure Contemporaine with which he exhibited until his death.
Often unpublished, his earthy political prints spoke of a radical commitment against Nazism while other of his contemporaries merrily sketched the lifestyles of Parisian theater goers or visitors to the Degas exhibition. His strange portraits and self-portraits as well as his feverish landscapes betray the burgeoning influence of German expressionism.
Highlighting several series representative of Wehrlin’s works, the exhibition is organized around the pool basin and in the ground and first floor dressing rooms: drawings, prints, paintings, engraved plates, written works and photos. La Piscine exhibition presents the artist’s creative process, from the first sketches to the completed paintings and prints. It includes the numerous preparatory studies which reveal the opinionated temperament of an artist who never compromised.
La Piscine is actually the Roubaix Musuem of Art and Industry in northern France. Although its formal name is the La Piscine - Musée d'Art et d'Industrie André Diligent, the museum is better known as La Piscine, or the pool, as the museum is housed in a former public bath and pool house with an exceptional art deco interior.
The public swimming pool was built between 1927 and 1932 by a Lille architect, Albert Baert. With over fifty years service as a swimming pool, it closed in 1985 and was transformed into a museum by the renown French architect Jean-Paul Philippon who incorporated the adjoining textile factory to create a modern entrance, special exhibition space and garden. The museum opened to the public in 2000.
La Piscine’s permanent collection was started in 1835 when textile manufacturers and the city government started a collection of fabric samples and swatches produced by the local textile factories. By 1898, the collection was housed in the National School for Arts and Textiles Industry (ENSAIT) and was considered a means of bringing culture to the town’s working class. To that end, the collection was expanded to include the fine arts, industrial arts and literary works. With World War II, the ENSAIT museum closed and never re-opened. With plans for the creation of a new museum, the collections were exhibited in the Roubaix Town Hall until La Piscine’s opening in 2000.