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


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