Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Adolf Wolfli

Yesterday I told you about art brut. Today, read about one important art brut artist, Adolf Wolfli.
Adolf Wolfli had a rough childhood. He was an orphan and very poor. He was not always treated well by the adults who passed through his life.

When he was 31, in 1895, Wolfli was admitted to the Waldau clinic near Bern, Switzerland. He remained there for the rest of his life.
Wolfli began to draw and soon the activity took up most of his time. He would wear a pencil down to nothing in only a week and he had to collect used packing paper on which to create his drawings. He never had enough materials.

Wolfli created tons of artwork. Between 1908 and 1930 he wrote his life story as he wished it to be. He illustrated it with images that often included music (see below). The 45 books that made up the story totaled 25,000 pages!
As you can see in the pictures shown here, Wolfli’s drawings were very ordered. They often had borders and connecting circles or ovals, and they usually contained geometric shapes and music notes. Wolfli began his drawings at the edge of the paper and worked his way inward. The drawings aren’t symmetrical but upon first glance may appear to be. Notice the faces that appear in all the drawings shown here.
In 1921 Dr. Walter Morganthaler wrote a book about Wolfli and his art. It was the first major book about a mentally ill artist and it increased Wolfli’s growing fame. Visitors began to show up at the hospital to meet the artist. They bought his drawings and some brought him supplies so he could continue drawing.

Wolfli drew steadily until he died in 1930.

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1 comment:

Philippe Landry said...

This is INSANELY ironic since Wolfli was committed for attempted child molestation. Surreal!