New York

Adolph Wölfli

Adolph Wölfli (1864–1930), who was admitted to the Waldau hospital for the mentally ill in 1895, where he was eventually diagnosed as schizophrenic, devoted 31 years of his life to producing an array of art works in different media, including drawings, musical compositions, poetry, and prose. This show of 30 drawings represented the range of his production, from his multifaceted autobiographical opus to the drawings he made to earn money.

In 1908 Wölfli began his “narrative work,” an encyclopedic series that by his death numbered some 45 volumes with over 25,000 pages. In the opening segment, From the Cradle to the Graave, 1908–12, Wölfli re-presented the first eight years of his life through the world travels of the magical child “Doufi.” Kaiser Barbarossa, ca. 1908, is typical of the fantastically ornamented, obsessively detailed colored-pencil drawings of the first segment of this series.

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