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Prinzhorn Collection, Heidelberg

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until January 20, 2019

Travelling exhibition "Extraordinaire! Unknown Works from Swiss Psychiatric Institutions around 1900" gives an insight into the fascinating art of Swiss psychiatric patients around the year 1900, through a multitude of exhibits. The show also presents an unusual research project, intended to inspire more research into patient art – as many more artistic works of this kind remain undiscovered, in medical records.

In a project by the Zurich University of the Arts, sponsored by the Swiss National Science Foundation, the medical records and the historical collections of 18 cantonal institutions were searched for patient works from 2006 to 2014. This was the first attempt, in Switzerland, to gain an overview of the artistic works created and kept in psychiatric institutions, focused on those works produced around 1900. The result is an image database with over 5000 works, most of which were previously unknown to researchers. A selection of these is presented to the public for the first time in the exhibition "Extraordinary!".

Patients created these works with dedication as well as with great technical and artistic skills. They considered them as contributions to public life, as inventions, or as expressions of their thoughts, as criticism of the institution, or as an enrichment in their monotonous everyday life. Their art is characterised by their perspective of what was considered "abnormal", and their exclusion, as people, from public life.

The exhibition travels through three institutions and three countries. In addition to the Prinzhorn Collection in Heidelberg (Germany), it will be on display in the Kunstmuseum Thun (Switzerland) from February 9 to May 19, 2019, and in the LENTOS Kunstmuseum in Linz (Austria) from June 8 to August 18, 2019. A catalogue will be issued in German and English.

Prinzhorn Collection
Universitätsklinikum, Heidelberg, Voßstraße 2, 69115 Heidelberg, Germany