Philippe Visson (New York 1942 - Montreux 2008) is a painter whose works are noted in many artistic movements, such as Abstract Expressionism, the New Fauves, and Art Brut. Visson lived on both sides of the Atlantic, and has been or is still shown in Paris, Zurich, Lausanne, Argovie, Monte-Carlo, Geneva and in the United States in New York City, Washington, D.C., Santa Barbara and Riverside in California, as well as at Brigham Young in Provo, Utah.
His artistic life was harried and began young: he debuted with his first show in Paris at sixteen, after a period of anorexia and bulimia and then after an international success, alcoholism. His early paintings sold well in Paris, New York, and Lausanne. Later, he and his wife and daughter survived only from the sales of his art.
Philippe Visson was the son of Russian parents (Isidore Akivisson and Assia Rubinstein). Born into a diplomatic as well as an artistic milieu (his parents socialized and worked within the highest diplomatic, political and society circles, for which reason Isidore Akivisson changed his name to André Visson), the painter “Visson” would inhabit this environment off and on his entire life. He maintained numerous unofficial relationships with Heads of State or former Heads of State on both sides of the Atlantic. The signatures from his Autograph Book started when he was eleven attest to the friendliness of the signers.
At fifteen, Visson fell in love with an older girl (the daughter of a Spanish diplomat), became anorexic but then found a cure when he started painting from a box of oils given to him by the wife of Winston Churchill’s editor, Wendy Reves. She told him: “You have a talent. Perhaps this is it.”
Visson had his first show in Paris at sixteen, where he was praised by such critics as Marcel Brion, of the Academy française. Later, he would be recognized by Michel Thévoz, Director of the Collection of Art Brut, and by René Berger, Director of the State Art Museum in Lausanne.
His works were or are still shown notably in the Museum of Beaux-Arts in Lausanne, at the Argauer Kunsthaus (CH), in the Museum Lithographs and Engravings of Vevey, the Zurich Kunsthaus, the Kassel Kunsthaus (D), at the Galerie Craven in Paris, the Gallery Milch in New York, the Brigham Young University Museum of Fine Arts, at the Georgetown University Library, as well as in Monte-Carlo at the Galerie Rauch.
Visson was marked however by the collaboration of certain art dealers with the Nazis. He stopped showing in galleries after 1959 to 1961 in New York, though he continued intense periods of work, living between America and Europe. He became a serious alcoholic at seventeen—an addiction from which he pulled himself before reaching twenty-one. He continued living a luxurious but financially precarious lifestyle with his parents on both sides of the Atlantic, particularly in Switzerland and Washington, D.C.
In 1963, after a social existence in Washington, New York, London and Paris, Visson followed his father into the latter’s retirement, and moved to Epalinges above Lausanne, Switzerland. He began exhibiting again, notably at the Gallery George Mosse and the Gallery Motte in Geneva.
It was in 1979, after the death of his father and a long stay in America, that he met his future wife, Ellen. He returned to Switzerland and began showing again at the Museum of Beaux-Arts in Lausanne, at the time under the direction of René Berger. Visson was then honoured with a personal show in the Aargauer Kunsthaus, under the direction of Heiny Widmer.
After the death of his mother, Visson moved definitively to Switzerland, to the Paccots and then Montreux with his wife and their daughter. He continued to paint in various studios, the last ones in the Montreux Palace, and to show paintings. The family survived only from the sale of his art.
Philippe Visson died in July 20008 after fifty years of career from a cancer provoked by the chemical odors of his paintings.