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Hans Prinzhorn’s Artistry of the Mentally Ill (1922)

- February 27, 2019 in Adolf Wölfli, art brut, Artistry of the Mentally Ill, Hans Prinzhorn, mental illness, outsider art, raw art

Artworks from Prinzhorn's landmark text in the history of thinking about mental illness and creativity.

The Diagrammatic Writings of an Asylum Patient (1870)

- March 12, 2013 in calligraphy, collections, diagrams, Images, Images-19th, Images-Engraving-Line, Images: Miscellaneous, insane asylum, outsider art, writing

These two images are from the book On the Writing of the Insane (1870) by G. Mackenzie Bacon, medical superintendant at an asylum (now Fulbourn Hospital) located near Cambridge, England. The pictures are the product of a “respectable artisan of considerable intelligence [who] was sent to the Cambridgeshire Asylum after being nearly three years in a melancholy mood”. Bacon describes how the unnamed patient, for the two years he was committed, spent “much of his time writing — sometimes verses, at others long letters of the most rambling character, and in drawing extraordinary diagrams.” The two images shown here were drawn on both sides of the same small half sheet of paper, and the patient, “as though anxious, in the exuberance of his fancy, to make the fullest use of his opportunities, [...] filled up every morsel of the surface — to the very edge — not leaving an atom of margin.” Bacon goes on to explain that the man, after leaving the asylum, went “to work at his trade, and, by steady application, succeeded in arriving at a certain degree of prosperity, but some two or three years later he began to write very strangely again, and had some [...]