Adolf Wölfli

+ 1930

Born in Bern (CH), died in Bern (CH).

Adolf Wölfli has a difficult youth: born in a dirt-poor family, working on the farm from the age of eight and orphaned by the age of nine. As a young man he was arrested a couple of times for indecent assault. He was unstable and violent. In 1895, after a couple of incidents, he was permanently detained in the Waldau institution.

In this psychiatric hospital, Wölfli starts to create his spectacular oeuvre: besides drawing, he also writes stories, poetry and music. Between 1904 and 1906 he creates 800 drawings (Tönstucke) which contain figurines, words and empty musical notations. After this period, he starts creating what is referred to as “the central part of his oeuvre”: a “story” containing autobiographical and fictitious elements. In total the “story” contains 45 bound books (more than 25.000 numbered, signed and dated pages, all by hand). In addition to the large amount of text, he adds 1620 drawings and 1640 collages. As the “story” progresses, music becomes more and more important; it is the only way for Wölfli to depict his cosmos.

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