Saturday, November 16, 2013

Call of the Mountain

The Swiss graphic designer, painter, and illustrator Alois Carigiet was born in 1902, 
the seventh of eleven children, and grew up in his family's farm in the small village of Trun
In 1911, economic hardship forced the family to move to the canton's capital Chur, 
where his father found employment. This relocation into a more urban environment 
had a strong impact on Carigiet, who later described the move as an "emigration to the low-lands",
 from a "mountain boy's paradise" to a "gloomy apartment on the ground floor in a narrow town alley".
 In 1918 he quit the gymnasium to start an apprenticeship as a decorative designer and draftsman
While learning the techniques of decorative art,Carigiet filled volumes of sketchbooks 
with drawings of rural and urban scenes, farm animals and pets, anatomical studies of the birds
 exhibited at Chur's natural history museum, and caricatures.


In the same year he found work in Zurich with Max Dalang's advertisement agency, where he learned
 the techniques of graphic design. After having won several competitions and gained a reputation, 
Carigiet opened his own graphic studio in Zurich in 1927. He hired some assistants and
 built a very successful practice, creating many posters, murals, illustrations, and magazine covers.
Funny and elegant animal characters were a frequent theme in the ads produced by the studio. 


1940 ca.

While on holiday in his native mountains in 1939, Carigiet was seduced by the vast and unspoiled landscape,
 and the feeling of having found his way back to a long lost paradise. Realizing that this was his home,
he gave up his business in Zurich, and rented a small farm house without electricity or running water, 
the "Hüs am Bach" (house at the stream) in Platenga, where he devoted much of his time
 to observing and drawing the alpine faunaIn 1943 he married the art student Berta Carolina Müller, 
and in the following years the couple gave birth to two daughters and built a house.




In 1940, Carigiet was asked by the author Selina Chönz to illustrate a children's story 
about a boy's adventurous climb through snow to an abandoned summer hut in order to retrieve
 a large cow bell for the annual Chalandamarz celebrationAfter years of hesitating, Carigiet finally agreed, 
and spent several weeks sketching the scenery and architecture in Chönz's home village Guarda
which he used as a model for the book's village. In 1945 Schellen-Ursli was published in German,
and later it was translated into ten languages, including English.

A Bell for Ursli

Carigiet and Chönz created two sequels featuring Ursli's younger sister Flurina: 
Flurina und das Wildvögelein (Florina and the Wild Bird) in 1952 
and Der grosse Schnee (The Snowstorm) in 1957. 

Flurina und das Wildvöglein

During the 1960s Carigiet illustrated three children's books written by himself
Zottel, Zick und ZwergBirnbaum, Birke, Berberitze, and Maurus und Madleina
In 1966, he was awarded the Swiss youth book prize for Zottel, Zick und Zwerg, 
as well as the inaugural Hans Christian Andersen Medal for children's illustrators.

After moving back to Zurich with his family between 1950 and 1960,

 in 1960 Carigiet finally returned to live in the mountains above his home village, 
where he dedicated himself fully to art until his death in 1985. 


  1. These illustrations are gorgeous!
    Thank you!

  2. I had some of his books as a child, and I use one of the illustrations from The Snowstorm as a screensaver on my computer now. It was such a treat to learn more about Alois Carigiet and to see more of his art. Thank you.

  3. Thanks for your comments!
    Julie, I am glad that you got to know this eclectic artist a little better!



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