The Origins of ‘Degenerate Art’

He lived in the Schwarzwald and ended up supporting the Nazis. No, not that guy, this one, Hans Prinzhorn. During the 1920s Prinzhorn gathered together a fascinating selection of ‘outsider art’, art from the ‘Geisteskranken’, and in the process helped pioneer what is today known as art therapy. Prinzhorn’s collection would later be abused by those he looked up to, set alongside works of modernism in order to prove the ‘sickness’ of the modern movement. Meanwhile the Heidelberg clinic where he worked would soon produce one of the architects of the infamous ‘Aktion T4‘, the systematic murder of hundreds of thousands of mental patients. An excellent film on Prinzhorn by Christian Beetz showed last week on 3Sat. Sadly only the opening few minutes are online.