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From Kirchner till this day – artist reaction of the Prinzhorn Collection

In 2001, the Museum Prinzhorn Collection opened in a refurbished lecture building. It celebrates its 10th anniversary with an extensive exhibition on the resonance of its collection, in which several Heidelberg institutions participate. With works by more than 60 artists, it shows the differences in the critical responses to the famous collection, from Prinzhorn’s time until the present.
In the Prinzhorn Collection Museum, works from the historic fund are mainly juxtaposed with works by more senior artists. The Expressionists Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and Alfred Kubin are represented, as well as Paul Klee and the Surrealist Max Ernst. The post 1945 response is shown in works by more contemporary ‘classic’ figures like Richard Lindner, Georg Baselitz, Walter Stöhrer, Arnulf Rainer, Wolfgang Petrick, Emil Siemeister, and Edgar Schmandt, but also by younger artists like Lisa Niederreiter and Jennifer Gilbert. The cabinets contain different responses to textile works like the little jacket by Agnes Richter and to the iconic drawings of August Natterer. The foyer and reading area of the City Library is taken over by a Peter Riek installation; the DAI exhibition space shows unexpected views on and into the museum by the photographer Jochen Steinmetz. The Museum Haus Cajeth sees an encounter of several draughtsmen and women: Jörg Ahrnt, Julia Kuhl, Stefan Lausch, and Dorothee Rocke. And the Forum für Kunst brings together the responses of 27 artists of the BBK.
Thus the exhibition gives an overview of art in the 20th and 21st century from an eccentric but revealing perspective.

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New exhibition – “Forget me not”. Insights into asylum life around 1900

“Dr. Printzhorn, this is how it looks inside me”: For the first time the Prinzhorn Collection presents a major exhibition of testimonies from its historical collection, which reflect everyday life in psychiatric institutions.More than 120 exhibits, including paintings, drawings, collages, textile works and letters, offer a touching insight into the life of patients and at the same time present a wide cross section of the collection. Works by about 60 men and women are shown, from about 30 different institutions in the period from 1895 to 1925. We show not only famous “classics”, but also many pieces which have never been exhibited before. Madhouses, sick people’s cells, dormitories and dining rooms are documented, fellow patients and nursing staff are portrayed; an “order” is created for the “madhouse”. “May I have a piece of cake?” blossoms in dark violet; wanderlust is condensed into poetry: “Do you know the country of Orplid?” Irony and mockery are also coping strategies in “Narrenschindenau” (“Mistreat-Fool-Town”); evidenced by many caricatures, such as “Dr. Tränenausbruch” (“Dr. Burst-Into-Tears”). Nevertheless, the psychiatrist remains a “doctor and master”, as he is called in the countless letters – sincerely begging, or menacingly demanding – addressed to him asking for release after years, even decades of internment. The heartfelt, ever recurring wish not to fall into oblivion is the red thread running through the exhibition: “Vergissmeinnicht”, “Forget-me-not”; embroidered on a handkerchief, formulated as a poem, written in letters or painted as a bouquet.

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New exhibition at the Prinzhorn Museum (Heidelberg)

Recently, the Prinzhorn Collection was able to acquire with the help of the Brass foundation a unique picture series of 44 drawings. The artist, Wilhelm Werner (1898-1940), lived since 1919 in the Werneck asylum. He drew the images between 1934 and 1938, after his forced sterilisation. He transformed the experience of the degrading intervention into a series of impressively imaginative and original pictures. Two years later Werner became a victim of the Nazi “euthanasia” programme. His series of drawings is shown for the first time at the Prinzhorn Collection from the 17th of March.

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