from the cradle to the grave (1908-1912)
Books 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 9, 10, 1A, 17
Wölfli’s first epic runs over 2,970 pages of text and 752 illustrations bound by Wölfli into nine books. It takes the form of a travelogue whose principal hero is a boy called Doufi (a nickname for Adolf). Together with his family, Doufi travels all over the world which is, in the name of progress, duly explored and inventorised. In From the Cradle to the Grave, Wölfli transforms his miserable childhood into a glamorous story of wonderful adventures, discoveries and awesome hazards, all of which are famously overcome. The text, which mixes prose with poetry and extensive lists, is accompanied by colourful maps, portraits and illustrations of events such as combats, collapses and catastrophes. In these drawings one first encounters the form of the “Vögeli“ – a little bird which can be understood as the protector of the ubiquitous Wölfli’s alter ego and simultaneously as a sexual symbol filling in any potential empty space.
From the Cradle to the Grave (excerpt)
Chicken song by Adolf Wölfli