by Catherine Lewis


Musée de l’Élysée, Lausanne

It is rare to find an exhibition of images of such great importance in the history of photography, all housed under one roof. It is even rarer to have found one so close by in Lausanne.

The Beauty of Lines exhibition at the Musée de l’Élysée, Lausanne is a collection of photographic images taken by some of the finest photographers of the 20th and 21st century – including Mapplethorpe, Ansel Adams, Margaret Bourke White, Man Ray, Robert Doisneau, Walker Evans and Imogen Cunningham.

160 photographs have been carefully curated from a collection considered to be one of the top five private collections in the world, which are owned by Sondra Gilman and Celso Gonzalez-Falla. These images all fall under the theme of ‘The Beauty of Lines’.




Sondra Gilman and Celso Gonzalez Falla

Sondra Gilman and Celso Gonzalez Falla are American collectors of photographic images, based in New York.

Sondra Gilman and Celso Gonzalez Falla’s New York Apartment

They live in an apartment surrounded by their collection of over 1,500 images. Every photographic print in their collection has been selected and purchased based purely on their personal tastes and preferences.

The exhibition The Beauty of Lines is the first time a collection of their images has ever been viewed by the public.



Lewis Hine – On The Hoist Empire State Building 1931

You can see the theme in its purest form (with lines in the images being very strong) in Lewis Hine’s images of builders working on the Empire State building.

The theme in a more abstract form (where lines are created by shadows) can be seen in Leon Levinstein’s more reportage style of images.


There are more esoteric lines in the case of a beautiful portrait of Sondra Gillman herself taken by Robert Mapplethorpe. A beautiful image clearly using the lines of light – the light of Sondra’s face and shoulder against the dark background.

Some amazing flower and botanical images taken by Imogen Cunningham show the beauty of using light to create soft lines within an image.

Cig Harvey – The Pale Yellow Cadillac, Sadie, Portland © Cig Harve

An interesting twist on the idea of ‘’lines being crossed” comes through the images of Cig Harvey who portrays transvestites in all their beauty and glamour and by Sally Mann who controversially took images of her children as they were growing up.  Her images show her children running around naked which caused quite a scandal in the US – therefore crossing a “line”.









The exhibition is a must see for anyone who has an interest in photography. Having the opportunity to see original images of some of the greatest photographers of all time is a real treat. If you plan to visit in a group, I’d recommend you contact Afshan Heuer at the Museum beforehand, as I found her help invaluable. Entrance is very reasonable at 8CHF per person (reduced rate if you go as a group), there is free entry on the first Saturday of the month and they do a late night entry until 8pm on the last Thursday of the month.



 Musée de l’Élysée, 18 avenue de l’Élysée, 1006 Lausanne.


WHEN: Runs until Sunday 6th May 2018. Opening hours: Tuesday-Sunday 11am-6pm. Late night until 8pm (every last Thursday of the month).


COST: 8CHF, 4/6CHF reduced rate. Free entrance on the 1st Saturday of the month.


FURTHER INFO: Click here.




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