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27 March 2000

Prinzhorn Collection on Show in New York and Los Angeles

"Traces Upon the Wunderblock" opens at the New York Drawing Center 13 April – Inscriptions of injury and distress – Traces visible and decipherable

As of 13 April 2000 the Heidelberg Prinzhorn Collection will be on show at a New York exhibition entitled "Traces Upon the Wunderblock". From 1 July to 13 September 2000 the exhibition will be showing at Los Angeles University's Armand Hammer Museum. Following a tour through the United States in the mid 80s this new exhibition is a sign of quickening international interest in the Collection. Preparations for the exhibition are going on parallel to the renovation work for the new museum planned to house the Collection in Heidelberg.

What the renovation work involves first of all is the reconstruction of the former neurology lecture theatre to house the Prinzhorn Collection at its home location, a complicated project in which exhibition and museum architect Dr. Johann Kräftner is on hand as a consultant for the University Planning Office. In addition he will be responsible for the interior decoration and also be collaborating on the solution of a number of tricky technical problems revolving largely around air-conditioning and security. As of July all the items in the Collection will be provisionally stored in a depot so that the renovation work can start up in earnest.

In the midst of all this turmoil the Prinzhorn team is also preparing the American exhibition. About 150 exhibits (drawings, paintings, books etc.) have to be selected, given the curatorial once-over, framed, inscribed and packed in special heat-proof cases, lists of exhibits drawn up for curators, conservatories, transport companies and insurance companies, contracts drafted and an accompanying courier organised. The New York Drawing Center, the renowned "little sister" of the Museum of Modern Art, specialises in drawings and print graphics and will be showing an extensive selection from the Prinzhorn Collection covering a range similar to the exhibition "Insane Beauty" conceived by Inge Jádi and Laurent Busine in 1996 for Belgium and also shown in 1997 at Heidelberg Castle and in 1998 in London.

Allusion to Freud's "Magic Pad"

The exhibition is entitled "Traces on the Wunderblock", an allusion to Freud's famous image of the "magic pad" as an analogy for the way the human psyche functions. Events inscribe themselves as on a wax tablet. Take away the top leaf and the inscription, though now outwardly invisible, remains preserved and legible in the layers of wax beneath. In precisely the same way, says Freud, the traces left by life and suffering imprint themselves, ostensibly disappear but remain unremittingly present in the human mind. With its allusive title the exhibition is also suggesting that we can "read" the exhibits from the Collection like a magic pad onto which the hospitalised psychiatric patients once inscribed their psychological wounds and their distress. The traces are visible and decipherable, sometimes communicating directly, at other times cryptically, most often hidden away in strange worlds full of strange enigmatic meaning.

Prinzhorn Collection: Traces upon the Wunderblock
– Drawing Center, New York, 13.4 to 10.6.2000
– Armand Hammer Museum at the University of Los Angeles, Los Angeles, 1.7. to 17.9.2000

Please address any inquiries to:
Psychiatrische Universitätsklinik Heidelberg
phone: 06221/562751, fax: 565998

Dr. Michael Schwarz
Press Officer of the University of Heidelberg
phone: 06221/542310, fax: 54317

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Updated: 07.04.00




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