The ‘Clarity’ movement was founded in 1911 by two inseparable, life-long friends – the writer, philosopher and painter Elisàr von Kupffer (1872 to 1942) and the philosopher and religious historian Eduard von Mayer (1873 to 1960). This movement sought to challenge patriarchal ideas, achieve the emancipation of homosexuals and establish an idealised vision of humankind that would extend beyond the boundaries of gender and shift lifestyle towards greater respect for Nature. ‘Clarity’ is part of the broader wave of Nordic cultural movements that emerged around Monte Verità in Ascona.
The Elisarion

The ‘Sanctuarium Artis Elisarion’ was officially opened in 1927. A round room was added in 1939 to accommodate Kuppfer’s circular painting entitled ‘Il Chiaro Mondo dei Beati’ (The Clear World of the Blessed). The passageway that led from the main building to the rotonda was dark, symbolising the journey from the ‘world of chaos’ to the ‘world of clarity’.
Elisàr von Kuppfer, self-portrait

In 1911, Elisàr von Kupffer – the spiritual head of the ‘Clarity’ movement by divine right – gave up his name to be called Elisarion.
‘Clarity’ had few links with other spiritual rejuvenation movements found in the Locarno region and did not continue after the death of its founders. This type of movement met with resistance and fear from local people. One boy from Minusio recalled his mother telling him: ‘Walk on the other side of the street when you pass there’.

After the death of its founders, the property was handed over to the municipality which turned it into a cultural centre. After various episodes, the large-scale tondo ‘Il Chiaro Mondo dei Beati’ was saved by Harald Szeemann and placed in a pavilion that makes up part of the Monte Verità complex. It was restored in 2021.

Major redevelopment was carried out in 2022 to bring the ‘Centro Elisarion’ facilities into line with regulations on fire protection and accessibility for people with disabilities, while maintaining the original structure.