Monday, June 11, 2007

Beyond Reason

“Beyond Reason: Works from the Prinzhorn Collection” is a collection of art works of some 5000 paintings, drawings, objects, embroideries, and collages made by patients of psychiatric hospitals throughout much of Europe. The art works had been collected from about 1890 to 1920. The collection is organized by the German art historian and psychiatrist, Hans Prinzhorn (1886-1933).

Dr. Han Prinzhorn described the works that are “productions of pictorial art by mental patients, which are not simply copies of existing images or memories of their days of health, but intended as expressions of their personal experience.”

Most patients in the psychiatric hospitals were diagnosed as”Bementia praecox” which is premature imbecility, in modern terms, is schizophrenia. Most patients were suffered from prolonged confinement so the art works are their response of hospitalization and sickness. Prinzhorn point out the art work as a result of: 1) Abandonment of direct apperception of the world. 2) Devaluation of outward appearances. 3) Concentration on the self.

Emma Hauck

Born Ellwangen, 1878,died wiesloch (asylum), 1928

Diagnisis: Dementia praecox

Sweetheart Come (Letter to husband), 1909

Marie Lieb

Recorded Heidelberg (asylum), 1894

Diagnosis: periodic mania

Cell floor decorated with torn strips of cloth,


Jakob Mohr

Born Mannheim-Kafertal, 1884

Last mentioned Mannheim, 1935

Occupation: gardener/farmer, hawker

Religion: Catholic

Diagnosis: dementia praecox paranoides

Proofs, c.1910

Friday, June 01, 2007

Alice Duncan

Alice Duncan,
an article that i read last April in the magazine of the Guardian, which is
a mother telling the story about her daughter. Alice was born on 11 June 1982. She grew up with two of her younger brothers and her parents. At the age of 17, Alice suffered a breakdown and developed bipolar disorder. Her behavior became so extreme that seriously effect people around her.She is either extremely happy or either extremely sad. Alice suffers despair, mania and attempts suicide. She can only stable her illness by medical treatments. In 2002, Alice recovered from the illness and studied art and photography on a foundation course in Banbury at Oxford and Cherwell Vally College, and then Fine Art Photography at The Glasgow School of Art. However, in 2004, couldn't stand the returning of depression, Alice took her life in Glasgow on 21 November, at the age of 22.
Within the article there are photos that she took when she studied photography. Reading her mother's description of her suffering from the illness while looking at the photos, I can feel Alice's emotion vividly presented in her works. The color of the photographs and the way she find the view and the quality of the photos give a tone of sadness to the images. And her works attract me. I am intrigued by the way she expressed her depression throughout her works.

A quote from Alice in the book "Alice Duncan":

"Response to Cynicism
Some work comes from sadness
Other springs from joy.
Angst, also, can produce the heartbreak blow

Needed to create

Sometimes the best way is to sit on a cold bench
and watch the rain fall.
And so it makes me wonder, now and again,
How anyone can be cynical
Of emotions as pure as these."

(These images Alice took are scars at her back, the injuries are made when she throw herself from the roof of her house.)