Adolf Wölfli (1864-1930)
Despite being institutionalised for schizophrenia at age thirty-one, Adolf Wölfli achieved artistic greatness in his cell at Waldau Mental Asylum near his native Bern, Switzerland. He has had a profound influence on modern art ever since; André Breton described his work as “one of the three or four most important oeuvres of the twentieth century.”
Working primarily in pencil on newsprint, Wölfli created a dense, stunningly detailed medley of wildly imaginative prose texts interwoven with poems, musical compositions, color illustrations, and collages. His five-part magnum opus, “St. Adolf-Giant-Creation,” comprises 45 large volumes and 16 notebooks, 25,000 pages in all, containing 1,620 drawings and 1,640 collages.