when outside art started
Interest in the art of insane asylum inmates had begun to grow in the 1920s. In 1921 Dr. Walter Morgenthaler published his book Ein Geisteskranker als Künstler (A Psychiatric Patient as Artist) on Adolf Wölfli, a psychotic mental patient in his care. Wölfli had spontaneously taken up drawing, and this activity seemed to calm him. His most outstanding work is an illustrated epic of 45 volumes in which he narrates his own imaginary life story. With 25,000 pages, 1,600 illustrations, and 1,500 collages, it is a monumental work. He also produced a large number of smaller works, some of which were sold or given as gifts. His work is on display at the Adolf Wölfli Foundation in the Museum of Fine Art, Bern. A defining moment was the publication of Bildnerei der Geisteskranken (Artistry of the mentally ill) in 1922, by Dr. Hans Prinzhorn. This was the first serious study of psychiatric works which was created after compiling thousands of examples from European Institutions. The book and the collection gained much attention from avant-garde artists of the time, including Franz Marc, Paul Klee, Max Ernst and Jean Dubuffet.
People with some artistic training and well-established artists are not immune from mental illness and may also be institutionalised. For example, William Kurelek, later awarded the Order of Canada for his artistic life work, as a young man was admitted to the Maudsley Psychiatric Hospitalwhere he was treated for schizophrenia. In hospital he painted, producing "The Maze", a dark depiction of his tortured youth. He was transferred from the Maudsley to Netherne Hospital from November 1953 to January 1955, to work with Edward Adamson (1911–1996), a pioneer of art therapy, and creator of the Adamson Collection.