The Prinzhorn Collection museum in Heidelberg, Germany, is dedicated to art created by people with mental disorders. The original collection is made up of around 6,000 works created by inmates of psychiatric institutions between 1840 and 1940. The works range from water-colours, drawings, paintings and sculptures to textile works and texts. Most of it was collected while the art historian and psychiatrist Hans Prinzhorn (1886–1933) worked as assistant physician at the Psychiatric Hospital of Heidelberg University. Some of the most famous artists whose works are held include Else Blankenhorn, Franz Karl Bühler, Karl Genzel, Paul Goesch, Emma Hauck, August Klett, August Natterer, Agnes Richter, Joseph Schneller, and Barbara Suckfüll..

In 1922, Prinzhorn published the first serious study of work by mental patients in “Artistry of the Mentally Ill” based on the work in his collection and the theories he formulated. It became “the Bible of the Surrealists” and remains a classic to this day. It became very influential among aware artists of the avant garden and was an inspiration to Jean Dubuffet.

The museum for the Prinzhorn Collection was inaugurated in 2001, in a former lecture hall in the Centre for Psychosocial Medicine. Today the collection is comprised of around 20,000 works.  

Caption: Prinzhorn Collection © Atelier Altenkirchen
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