art of adolf wölfli
Adolf Wölfli was an orphan, who spent half of his life in an asylum for the mentally ill in Waldau near Bern. He was able to transform his social isolation and mental disability through his boundless creative potential. Wölfli created a complex parallel world, for which he invented a new biography, an imaginary geography and an alternative history, as well as a new range of numerals and thousands of songs. His life work, the establishment of the "St. Adolf Giant Creation", is contained in 45 books and more than 25,000 pages of texts, musical scores, numerological records and, above all, 1,600 drawings and 1,640 collages. Despite the fact that Wölfli's iconography is rooted in the culture which surrounded him, he transcends this culture by filling it with a new meaning in correspondence with his personal mythology.
“As far as the content is concerned, it can be said that totally everything is represented there – not only what we can directly see but, in general, everything what we can think of or sense,“ wrote psychiatrist Walter Morgenthaler, who was in charge of Wölfli and dedicated the book Ein Geisteskranker als Künstler (Madness and Art. The Life and Works of Adolf Wölfli) to his patient (1921). In this book, for the first time ever, a psychiatric patient was labeled an artist and not presented in terms straight from a case history, but by name and surname.