the prinzhorn collection
While working in Heidelberg at the psychiatric hospital, Hans Prinzhorn grew an existing collection of patients’ artwork. By the time he published his book, “The Artistry of the Mentally Ill”, in 1922, he had amassed around 5,000 works from about 450 patients. What Prinzhorn set out to accomplish in this book was to examine the art of the mental patients with whom he worked, not only in terms of their psychological value, but that of their aesthetic value as well. This not only inspired many modern artists, but also instigated the field of psychiatric art.
In addition to the primary collection of Prinzhorn’s work, the Psychiatric Clinic has also accumulated works from other institutions in Germany, France, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Poland and Japan. The complete collection is a combination of wood sculptures, watercolors, drawings, collages, oil paintings, fabric works, letters, notes, and book drafts, and range in age from 1880 to the present day.