Breathe Deeper: Painting the Insane

Table of contents:

Breathe Deeper: Painting the Insane
Breathe Deeper: Painting the Insane

Art-butt is a crude art, one of the types of which is the painting of the mentally ill.

painting of the insane

There are as many directions of art brut as there are more traditional types of art: poetry, literature, sculpture, music, etc. We will tell you about the paintings of the most famous mentally ill.

Adolph Wölfi (1864-1930)

One of the most prominent representatives of art brut. In the future, the famous primitivist painter was born in Switzerland and was abandoned by his alcoholic father at the age of seven. As a result, the boy had to work as a farm laborer. The matured Adolf was arrested for insulting morality, and after repeating daring antics, he was placed in the famous Waldau psychiatric hospital, where he spent the rest of his life. He was diagnosed with schizophrenia. Here, at the age of 35, Wölfi began to paint, write music, poetry and prose. The artist's legacy can be called truly gigantic: tens of thousands of drawings and collages.

Image Image

Friedrich Schroeder-Sonnenstern (1892-1982)

This German artist is also considered a very prominent representative of art brut. Since childhood, this tomboy was distinguished by his peculiar "hobbies" - for example, he loved to climb trees and urinate on neighbors or smart people passing by. In 1912, Frederick was accused of theft and sent to a psychiatric hospital, where he wrote a series of poems dedicated to the sins of mankind, convincing others that he was not only the smartest man on Earth and in Heaven, but also a superman in general, and took the title of the sun king. and he considered his mission to guide people on the right path. Later, Schroeder-Sonnenstern was released from the hospital, but again began to wander and steal, so he ended up in it again.

By a lucky coincidence, several of his paintings ended up in the Springer Gallery, where they were instantly sold out. After that, Frederick's career took off. However, having lost his girlfriend, he began to drink and often gave his masterpieces for a bottle of vodka.

The creatures embodied in the paintings of Schroeder-Sonnenstern are distinguished by their strangeness, sometimes they can be called erotic, sometimes - nightmarish. The artist boldly combined the incongruous (as is often the case in the painting of the mentally ill, especially schizophrenics). Often depicted parts of the face in the form of genitals.

August Natterer (1868-1933)

German artist, also known under the pseudonym Noether. In 1907, he experienced a vision of the Last Judgment and tried to commit suicide, after which he was placed in a mental hospital. He spent the remaining 26 years of his life in various clinics. He considered himself the illegitimate son of Napoleon and, neither more nor less, the redeemer of all human sins.

In hospitals, he received visions, which he interpreted as omens and later depicted on paper. Thus, the drawing "World Axis with a Rabbit" was, in his words, a prediction of the First World War.

Image Image

Aloiza Korbaz (1886-1964)

This Swiss artist lost her mother at the age of 11. She was a private teacher in the noble families of Prussia. In 1918, Aloise was diagnosed with schizophrenia, and after 1920 she no longer left mental hospitals. It was then that I began to draw. Her first drawings were lost, but in 1936, doctors became interested in her work, and began to collect it.

Korbaz's works are distinguished by the fact that they are performed on wrapping paper or pieces of cardboard sewn together. Aloise filled the entire space of the sheet with pencil drawings of bright colors. The most frequent subjects of her works are couples in love (in her youth she was in love with Kaiser Wilhelm II), opera and theater characters - La Traviata, Manon Lescaut (the artist dreamed of becoming a singer since childhood), historical characters - Napoleon, Cleopatra, Mary Stuart, Queen Elizabeth …

Image Image

Alexander Lobanov (1924-2003)

A mentally ill Soviet artist was born in the town of Mologa, Yaroslavl Region.At the age of seven, the boy fell ill with meningitis, after which he became deaf. In 1947, he first entered a psychiatric hospital, then was transferred to another, from which he did not leave until his death.


Lobanov's drawings cannot be called diverse. Basically, they depict the same plot and faces: Lobanov himself, the heroes of the revolution and Stalin. Often in his works you can see weapons, especially the fantastic "Mosin double-barreled" - a modified Mosin rifle of 1891 (this motive is associated with the fact that during the war soldiers jokingly promised to give Lobanov a rifle). Many drawings also depict hunting (associated with Alexander's acquaintance with the hunter Gennady) and the cook, with which, according to doctors, he was in love. According to some experts, Lobanov's drawings indicate not painfulness, but rather a childishness of the soul.

Popular by topic