Breslau, Saint Adolf Castle

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Adolf Wölfli (Swiss, 1864–1930)
Breslau, Saint Adolf Castle, 1922
Pencil and colored pencil on paper
20 × 12 3/4 in. (50.8 × 32.39 cm)
Gift of Anthony Petullo M1993.182
Not Currently on View

The important outsider artist Adolf Wölfli spent his entire life in and around Bern, Switzerland. After a troubled youth, in 1895 he was diagnosed as schizophrenic and spent the following decades in the city’s Waldau Psychiatric Clinic. The clinic staff encouraged Wölfli’s pursuit of the arts as therapeutic in controlling his violent behavior. Like most of his drawings, this example illustrates an imaginary autobiography in which the artist adopted the persona of a divine child named Saint Adolf II. Highly organized, obsessively detailed symmetrical zones indicate Wölfli’s search for order as a means of controlling anxiety. The linear architectural elements strike a tense balance with the rounded clock faces and stylized birds.

Publication History
Andera, Margaret, and Lisa Stone. Accidental Genius: Art from the Anthony Petullo Collection. Milwaukee, WI: Milwaukee Art Museum, 2012, p. 156, color illus. pp. 156 & 196.

Andera, Margaret, Nonie Gadsden, Britt Salvesen, and Laurie Winters. Collection Guide: Milwaukee Art Museum. Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Milwaukee Art Museum, 2004, pp. 63, 73, cat. 108, color illus. p. 63.

Milwaukee Art Museum. Building a Masterpiece: Milwaukee Art Museum. New York: Hudson Hill Press, 2001, p. 226, color illus.

Milwaukee Art Museum, and Museum of American Folk Art. Driven to Create: The Anthony Petullo Collection of Self-Taught & Outsider Art. Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Milwaukee Art Museum, 1993, p. 91, cat. 91, color illus. p. 91.
Exhibition History
Accidental Genius: Art from the Anthony Petullo Collection, Milwaukee Art Museum, February 10 – May 6, 2012.

Driven to Create: The Anthony Petullo Collection of Self-Taught & Outsider Art, Milwaukee Art Museum, March 11 – May 8, 1994.


This information is subject to change as the result of ongoing research.