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Adolf Wolfli exhibit at The American Folk Art Museum

Adolf WolfliActing on a tip from ‘crans, Meg, Lance, and I hit the American Folk Art Museum last weekend. Henry Darger’s young girls with penises opus was good, but the three-floor exhibit of Adolf Wölfli’s work absolutely blew me away. Wölfli was a Swiss artist who wound up in a mental institution around the turn of the last century (child molestation got him there, schizophrenia kept him there), cranking out art like his life depended on it until he died in 1930.

During that period, he produced over 25,000 pages of drawings, illustrations, and illustrated narrative. Wölfli’s drawings are incredibly dense, almost fractal in nature, requiring viewing from multiple distances to begin to see the whole. The American Folk Art Museum provides a good setting for seeing the exhibit, which consists of an impressive sampling of Wölfli’s work, from his earliest surviving drawings to the commercial “bread art” he produced to keep himself in pencils and tobacco. If you find yourself in NYC before the exhibit ends on May 19, I’d *highly* recommend checking it out.

More on the Wölfli exhibit at the American Folk Art Museum:
The Far Side (New Yorker)
Primal Time (Village Voice)
The Autobiography of St. Adolf II (artnet)

Reader comments

DanielMay 18, 2003 at 4:37AM

Speaking of schizophrenia and art, NARSAD Research has a website featuring art products by mentally ill artists that is of interest. It's over here at:

NARSAD funds research on schizophrenia and depression.

This thread is closed to new comments. Thanks to everyone who responded.