Adolf Wolfli

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

I first saw work of Adolf Wölfli (1868-1930) through Marcel Ruyters.

That was in the days when you were happy to discover an envelop in the mailbox with a Xth generation black&white zerox. Nowadays the work of Adolf Wölfli can be seen in full colour in well printed books. There is also an Adolf Wölfli Foundation where you can read about him and see some of his works. He is mentioned in several blogs and with little searching you can find quite a bit reproducions of his work.

It is said that he produced an oeuvre of 25.00 pages in the mental institution in Bern, where he lived most of his life. Adolf Wolfli made no real distinction between drawings, writings and musical compositions: he wrote in his drawings, draw in his writings, put musical scores in his drawings, etcetera. This desire, to put the world in a box, is what drives many artists, but little did it like Adolf Wolfli did it. I remember that when I finally got to see a full colour book of some of his works, I lost my own motivation for making art for a while. This is so much better than what I could ever dream of to do myself!

Adolf Wolfli was not able to have real contact with other people or the world around him. He lived in a world of his own. This man was not able to function in society. His work is completely loose from the culture, it is as authentic as art can be. I often wish I knew that I could live in a world of my own, and that I had nothing to do with the madness of our society. But I have no idea how to do that. Adolf Wolfli did not do anything to live in his world of his own; it seems that this was his only choice, he simply wasn’t capable of dealing with society. I want it both: functioning in the world around me (and enjoying it!) and being able to be authentic in whatever i do or say. So far I have not come very far, and I realise that I will probably die without even coming close to my ideal. But I am not driven by the result, I am driven by a desire. And I am not the only one, of course. In a society where results are seen as the main thing, people like Adolf Wolfli are seen as idiots, but for me he is an example.
I especially like his writings that look like collages:

I have no idea what he is trying to tell or explain. He is known to have some explicit ideas about the world and Life, but I know too little of his ideas to understand them. Here is a recitation of one of his ideas:

You can here this and more mp3’s here.