christian berstart brut
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He is the emblematic figure of 20th century art brut, author of more than 1,500 drawings and of a 25,000-page biography. He has built a personal and complex universe, where he reinvents his past and projects a utopian future, colonized to the edge of space. The richness and excess of this work cause vertigo. The list of artists he fascinates is long (among them Jean Dubuffet, Annette Messager, Arnulf Rainer), and an echo to his presence in the collections of the Musée National d’Art Moderne (France), Prinzhorn collection (Germany), and the LaM (France). As André Breton pointed out, this is “one of the three or four major works of the 20th century.”

adolf wölfli - © christian berst — art brut
Date 1864 — 1930
Country Switzerland

Adolf Wölfli, born in Bowil (Switzerland) in 1894, had a rough childhood : his father, a stone sculptor who drank away all of his paychecks, abandoned his family in 1872. Adolf and his mother were sent to farms as laborers, but she died shortly thereafter. From then on, the young boy wandered from family to family, sometimes being treated harshly yet still managing to continue his studies. Disappointments in love affected him greatly and affected his development. In 1890, he went to prison after two attempted rapes; five years later, a third one provoked his internment at the psychiatric ward of Waldau near Berne, where he died in 1930 of stomach cancer.

Starting in 1899, Wölfli delved into the depths of creation and elaborated a universe as personal as it was complex, narrating the epic of St. Adolf II. In it, he reinvented his past and projected a utopic future in which St. Adolf II colonizes the universe up to the furthest reaches of space, an inordinate universe that obliged Wölfli to augment the numerical system by multiple units, the highest of which was called anger. To celebrate this advent, drawings, writings, collages and musical staves were put in dialogue in a proliferation of 25,000 pages. The psychiatrist Morgenthaler dedicated a work to him in 1921: Ein Geisteskranker als Künstler (A mentally ill man as an artist). Many artists and collectors were interested in his work during his lifetime: Wölfli thus agreed to sell them his “Brodkunst,” which he made specifically for the occasion. Rediscovered by Jean Dubuffet in 1945, this monumental work enjoys international recognition. Surely it fascinates through its rare capacity to “defy our way of thinking and fundamentally modify our vision of the world” (D. Baumann).

Artworks
Please contact us to inquire about the available works.
Adolf Wolfli, untitled  (Der Richter-Hall, oder, sogenanntee Plattinn-Becher: D’s Vreeneli trägt ihn)  - © christian berst — art brut
Adolf Wolfli, untitled (Der Richter-Hall, oder, sogenanntee Plattinn-Becher: D’s Vreeneli trägt ihn) , 1917
12.2 x 15.75 in
Untitled (Hiesiges Bild, der Skt. Adolf=Wölfli Schatz’1) - © christian berst — art brut
Untitled (Hiesiges Bild, der Skt. Adolf=Wölfli Schatz’1), 1926
18.5 x 12.2 in
untitled, recto verso (Das Eisen-Ross, im Stoker-Zuk) - © christian berst — art brut
untitled, recto verso (Das Eisen-Ross, im Stoker-Zuk), 1920
9.84 x 13.39 in
untitled (Gold=Ringen in China ) - © christian berst — art brut
untitled (Gold=Ringen in China ), 1922
17.32 x 22.83 in
untitled (mazurka-voll schlüss’l anfang) - © christian berst — art brut
untitled (mazurka-voll schlüss’l anfang), 1927
18.9 x 12.2 in
untitled (He who would teach me art) - © christian berst — art brut
untitled (He who would teach me art), 1925
13.78 x 18.9 in
Exhibitions
drawing now 2020
to be postponed. From March 25 to 29, 2020.
Scrivere Disegnando
when the language seeks its other, Centre d'Art Contemporain Genève . From January 29 to August 23, 2020.
Ojo electrico
Casa Encendida, Madrid. September 24, 2019.
visionary architecture
oliva creative factory. From May 14 to June 15, 2019.
L’envol
Maison Rouge, Paris. From June 16 to October 28, 2018.
View more
Vestiges & Verse
Notes from the Newfangled Epic, American Folk Art Museum, New York. From January 21, 2018 to December 27, 2017.
La folie en tête
aux racines de l’art brut, Maison Victor Hugo, Paris. From November 16, 2017 to March 18, 2018.
Les Refuges du récit
Écritures, langues et mondes imaginaires à partir de l’art brut, LaM, Villeneuve d'Ascq. From October 19, 2017 to March 28, 2018.
The Golden Ratio Laws
Oliva Creative Factory, Portugal. From April 29 to September 30, 2017.
Adolf Wölfli
a kingdom of 25,000 pages, Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art, Kobe. From January 11 to February 26, 2017.
Art Brut
A Story of Individual Mythologies , Treger Saint Silvestre Collection, Portugal . From January 1 to February 26, 2017.
On The Wire
by Jean-Hubert Martin, at the gallery. From April 9 to May 22, 2016.
Architectures
Collection de l'Art Brut, Lausanne. From November 13, 2015 to April 17, 2016.
Du nombril au cosmos
autour de la collection abcd/ Bruno Decharme, Art et Marges museum, Bruxelles. From September 25, 2015 to January 24, 2016.
Elevations, Bruno Decharme & Antoine de Galbert Collections
Hommage à Joseph Ferdinand Cheval, Château de Hauterives . From April 30 to 27, 2015.
art brut masterpieces and discoveries
carte blanche à bruno decharme, at the gallery. From October 21 to November 29, 2014.
Art brut: breaking the boundaries
curator Christian Berst, Oliva Creative Factory, Sao Joao da Madeira, Portugal. From June 1 to September 11, 2014.
Art, madness - chocolate
Adolf Wölfli, Kunstmuseum. From May 27 to September 21, 2014.
on the horizon
at the gallery. From January 28 to March 1, 2014.
Vehicles
Collection de l'art brut, Lausanne. From November 8, 2013 to April 27, 2014.
Raw Vision
25 years of art brut, Halle Saint Pierre, Paris . From September 18, 2013 to August 22, 2014.
Arte Bruta Terra Incognita
by Christian Berst, Collection Treger-Saint Silvestre, Lisbonne. From April 20 to September 13, 2012.
Adolf Wölfli
univers, Lille Métropole Musée d'Art Moderne, d'Art Contemporain et d'Art Brut. From April 9 to July 3, 2011.
Inner Worlds Outside
Fundacion La Caixa, Madrid ; Whitechapel gallery, London ; Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin. From January 18 to December 30, 2006.
Dubuffet & l’art brut
Museum kunst palast, Dusseldorf ; Collection de l'art brut, Lausanne ; LAM, Villeneuve d'Ascq. From April 23 to September 23, 2005.
The art of Adolf Wölfli
St. Adolf-giant-creation, American Folk Art Museum, New York. From February 25 to May 18, 2003.
Museum of Fine Arts - Kestner Gesellschaft - Württembergischer kunstverein - Moderna Museet …
World exhibition tour . From August 12, 1976 to June 26, 1979.
Adolf Wölfli
Compagnie de l'Art Brut, Paris. From May 2 to July 14, 1948.
exhibition view of *the electric eye*,  curators : antonia gaeta and pilar soler, la casa encendida, madrid, spain, 2019. - © la casa encendida, christian berst — art brut
*visionary architecture*, lisbon architecture triennale, works of the treger saint silvestre collection, oliva creative factory, sao joao da madeira, portugal, from may 14th to june 15th, 2019. - © oliva creative factory, christian berst — art brut
exhibition view of *the electric eye*,  curators : antonia gaeta and pilar soler, la casa encendida, madrid, spain, 2019. - © la casa encendida, christian berst — art brut
Press review
is there such a thing as outsider photography?
Claire Margat, Artpress. May 22, 2020.
scrivere disegnando. Quand la langue cherche son autre.
Claire Margat, Artpress. May 22, 2020.
honneur au dessin contemporain
Fanny Drugeon, L’objet D’art. March 5, 2020.
collectionneurs d’art brut
Claire Margat, La Quinzaine Littéraire. March 16, 2019.
L’art brut à contre courant
Aurelie Romanacce, Pascaline Vallee Et Patrick Le Fur, Arts Magazine. August 29, 2014.
View more
La flambée de l’art brut
Emmanuelle Lequeux, Beaux Arts. August 29, 2014.
Arte bruta
Richard Treger, Raw Vision. April 11, 2014.
Il bello del Brut: i dilettanti sono blue-chips
Luana De Micco, Il Giornale Dell’Arte. January 23, 2014.
Collections
Musée national d’art moderne (Pompidou)
France
LaM, musée d’art moderne, d’art contemporain et d’art brut de Lille Métropole
France
Prinzhorn collection
Germany
collection de l’Art brut
Switzerland
abcd / Bruno Decharme collection
France
View more
Treger Saint Silvestre collection
Portugal
Carmen and Daniel Klein collection
Switzerland
Arnulf Rainer collection
Austria
The Museum of Everything
Great Britain
AVAM, American Visionary Art Museum
United States
Antoine Frérot collection
France
Emmanuelle and Guy Delcourt collection
France
Charlotte Zander Museum
Germany
Dammann collection
Switzerland
Adolf Wölfli

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