Hosts of women inhabited the psychiatric institutions in Germany around 1900. Yet only 20 percent of the exhibits in the Prinzhorn Collection are by women. What does this mean? For the first time, the most extensive research and exhibition project yet to be conducted by the Prinzhorn Collection inquires into the artistic interventions of female psychiatric patients and presents some 200 drawings, paintings, examples of needlework and written testimonies by more than 50 women under the title "The Madness of Women".
Male inmates appear to have needed more space for their delusions and for their pictures. They worked on flying arks and plans for ruling the world. But what did the women in the institutions produce? Prinzhorn identified the "primal form" of the creative urge as residing in the eruptive production processes and the metaphysically oriented testimonies of his ten "master artists". By contrast, he described all the women's works as playful, representational or decorative. We present these works as a moving collection of artistic responses and biographic narratives created by women in psychiatric institutions between 1870 and 1920, pitting their imagination, wit and energy against the realities of institutional life.
The exhibition is accompanied by a short film (a project conducted jointly by female patients and female art therapists at the Psychiatric Hospital in Heidelberg) and a performance based on the work of the prize-winning American poetess Anne Sexton (1928-1974) entitled "Sad Hotel" (7/8 May 2004, 8 p.m.).
Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesdays till 8 p.m.; guided tours: Wednesdays at 6 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.
Please address any inquiries to
Monika Jagfeld M.A.
phone: 06221/564725, fax: 561723
Dr. Michael Schwarz
Press Officer of the University of Heidelberg
phone: 06221/542310, fax: 54317