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Pierre Keller (1945–2019)

LAUSANNE, SWITZERLAND—Swiss photographer and graphic artist Pierre Keller, who directed the University of Art and Design Lausanne School (ECAL) from 1995 to 2011, has died of liver cancer. He was seventy-four years old.

Keller was born in 1945 in Gilly, Switzerland, and graduated in 1965 from what was then called the École des Beaux-Arts et Arts Appliqués in Lausanne (now ECAL), where he studied graphic design. After working as an artist, photographer, and teacher, in 1995 he returned to ECAL as its director, leading the school’s major Bernard Tschumi–designed expansion in Renens.

In 1975, Keller began taking Polaroids as a photographic journal, some four thousand of which were collected in a photobook, My Colorful Life (2018), with texts by Stéphanie Moisdon and Hans Ulrich Obrist. In 1983, he represented Switzerland at the São Paulo Bienal. He was a member of the Swiss Commission for Art and Design in Bern and was recognized over the years with awards including the Prix de Lausanne, the French Ordre des Palmes Académiques, and the Design Prize Switzerland.

In the catalogue for Keller’s 1986 exhibition at the Farideh Cadot gallery in Paris, his friend Jean Tinguely wrote: “The painting of Pierre Keller overwhelms me. I call it painting, because ultimately it does not really matter to me if the medium of the image is photographic. Only the image matters; the image that seems to act as a new revolutionary force.”

July 11, 2019