The Prinzhorn Collection
Lines on the magic notepad
The Prinzhorn Collection. Lines on the magic notepad presented a selection of more than two hundred drawings and notebooks produced by psychiatric patients between 1890 and 1920. The collection takes its name from the psychiatrist and art historian Hans Prinzhorn (Hemer, Germany, 1886 – Munich, Germany, 1933) who, in the early twenties, decided to bring together drawings by his own patients and those of other medical institutions with the objective of studying the therapeutic capacities of creative work and the aesthetic value of these creations.
Unique in its dimensions – it includes over five thousand works from all around Europe –, the collection was groundbreaking in its intentions given that it entailed a convergence of scientific and artistic interest in the creativity of a social group that had traditionally been considered outcasts due to mental illness. This outcast status seduced many avant-garde artists who were experimenting with spontaneous creative acts and the role of the subconscious as a means of transgressing existing artistic languages. In this sense, the Prinzhorn Collection was particularly influential on the work of Max Ernst and the surrealists, and, later, on Jean Dubuffet, the development of the concept of art brut, and the work of the abstract expressionists.
This exhibition presented a selection of over 200 drawings and notebooks done by mental patients between 1890 and 1920. The collection takes its name from the psychiatrist and art historian Hans Prinzhorn (1886-1933) who, in the early twenties, had the idea of collecting drawings by patients at his own and other institutions with the aim of "studying the works without prejudice, without preset questions and, most of all, without value judgements." Unique in its scope, containing over 5,000 works from all around Europe, this collection is a pioneer in its intentions, since it represents the confluence of scientific and artistic interest in the creativity of a sector of society regarded as outcasts. The title of the exhibition, Traces upon the "Wunderblock", alludes to the role of the unconscious in the creative act and the process of the imagination, inspired by Sigmund Freud´s concept of the unconscious and repression.