Arnaud Meloro, Cristiano Moreira Da Silva and Adrien Rama on how a typsetters’ strike launched the career of a Lausannois artistic talent.
Arnaud, Cristiano and Adrien are graduate students at the Université de Lausanne.
Caricaturists had a field day with the Lausanne conference. The Hungarians Derso and Kelèn are among the best known. But a local Swiss artist also spotted his chance to satirize the Lausanne Conference, all thanks to a typesetters’ strike. It is easy to overlook local events when considering the conference. Though Switzerland had been preserved from the destruction unleashed by the Great War, the country was not protected from the social and economic unrest experienced in its wake. Switzerland experienced an economic crisis in the years 1920-1922, with high unemployment to match. A typesetters’ strike which broke out in Lausanne on 16 November 1922, less than a week before the opening of the conference, and lasted until 21 December 1922, was one part of this crisis.
LA PRESSE LAUSANNOISE, 27 NOV 1922.
In an interview at Lausanne Mussolini speculated that this strike could spread across Switzerland and the rest of Europe. As it turned out the typesetters’ strike remained a local event, though it did cross from Vaud into several German-speaking regions. It would provide a launchpad for a young Vaud artist, Georges Charles Augsbourg, known under his pen-name Géa. Then still studying at the cantonal art school, Augsbourg was taken on as illustrator by a new paper, the Presse Lausannoise.
While left-wing papers such as Le droit du Peuple and Le Grütli continued to appear, the strike shut down the four right-wing Lausanne papers: the Feuille d’Avis, the Gazette, the Revue and the Tribune de Lausanne. These papers decided to collaborate to produce a special paper, La Presse Lausannoise, intent on opposing the diffusion of socialism as well as covering the conference. The first edition was published on 18 November 1922. Its front page carried a caricature of Munir Bey top right, based on a woodcut by Géa. Nineteen caricatures in all would appear in the five week run of the Presse Lausannoise, including Mussolini, Curzon, and Venizelos. A strike-breaker’s debut was followed by a successful career in Switzerland and France, as a painter and caricaturist known for depicting celebrities. Augsbourg died in 1974.
LA PRESSE LAUSANNOISE, 29 NOV 1922.
This is the sixth in a series of blogposts contributed by students of Lausanne University, drawing on the police archives of the Canton of Vaud and other local archives as part of their study of Global History. To find out more about this innovative pedagogical response to the Covid emergency, click here. We would like to thank Guillaume Beausire and Thomas David for making this collaboration possible.
MAIN IMAGE: LA PRESSE LAUSANNOISE, 21 NOV 1922. BIBLIOTHEQUE UNIVERSITAIRE CANTONALE, 3B 9255.