Conference 13 & 14 January 2017

Paul Goesch

An Artist Between Avant-Garde and Institution

In addition to being a recognized professional expressionist artist with psychiatric experience, Paul Goesch also occupies an outstanding position in the Prinzhorn Collection. Furthermore, his life and his art are a particularly impressive example of the contact and relationship between art and mental illness in modernity - a field of research that has not only been the focus of research at the Prinzhorn Collection since the opening of the museum, but that has also become an important field of interest in German, French and Italian media and art history, since the turn of the century.

The conference with speakers from Germany and France examines both Paul Goesch's connections to the avant-garde and cultural events of his time, as well as his stay in psychiatric institutions. Paul Goesch is one of the few trained artists in the Heidelberg collection of artwork by mentally ill men and women. After the First World War, he was a respected expressionist painter and architectural draftsman in Berlin, as well as an active member of the German avant-garde. From 1921, however, he spent twenty years in psychiatric hospitals until he was killed by national socialist psychiatrists in 1940. This sad fate is the main cause of the long silence about him. Already during Prinzhorn's time some drawings, gouaches and an extensive sketch book with architectural drawings were acquired by the Heidelberg collection. In 2015, Goesch’s family donated 350 additional drawings and gouaches to the Prinzhorn Collection, which now holds one of the world's largest collections of the artist. The exhibition “Paul Goesch - Between Avant-Garde and Asylum”, the first individual show of the artist since 1976, currently presents a selection of 120 works and is accompanied by an extensive catalog.

The interdisciplinary conference will build on this new foundation of research and discuss, expand and deepen it in various aspects. The lecturers will approach the artist from the fields of architectural history, art history, medical history, psychiatry and philosophy.

All lectures are in German.
Fees 20 Euro / 10 reduced (students, trainees)
5 Euro discount until 15 December 2016 
For registration and further information visit ourÖffnet internen Link im aktuellen Fensterconference-website (in German only)




International Conference

„Ethical Questions about Outsider Art“
24th/25th of May 2013

Leitet Herunterladen der Datei einInformation

With contributions from different perspectives, the symposium aims to clarify what constitutes an ethically responsible approach to dealing with works and artists from the outsider art field. This question is more important than ever due to the present position of outsider art within the art market, but nevertheless until now it hasn’t been addressed in a focused way. Presentations by academics and experts from all over Europe will give an overview of different aspects of the issue and will enable participants to end the symposium by critically discussing the corresponding recommendations of the European Outsider Art Association.

Since the early 1970s Outsider Art has been a growing sector in the art world and the art market. The term, which was originally introduced in 1972 as an English ‘translation’ of the term Art brut, coined by Jean Dubuffet in 1945, embraces artistic works by self-taught individuals which cannot be categorised into any contemporary art movement and which impress with the originality of its form and content. For the most part, outsider art is created by people with intellectual disabilities or psychiatric experience, who often use art and artistic activity as an existential vehicle to compensate for the shortcomings they have undergone.

Meanwhile, there are not only galleries and private collectors that specialize in Outsider Art, but also specialist auctions, fairs and museums (the Prinzhorn Collection Museum, which opened in 2001, is one of them). A recent development has been the integration of Outsider Art into collections and Museums of contemporary art, which have been for some time invigorated by works on the borders of professional European art, but which have rarely exhibited them alongside it.

Ethical problems begin when talking about outsider art and its makers, because their alienation from mainstream art practice and artists can often result in negative as well as positive discrimination. Especially questionable is the utilisation of the specific experience of people diagnosed with psychiatric issues, as the content and intended function of their artworks are often closely related to, but should not be reduced to, their exceptional experience.

Additionally, many outsider artists are not able to represent themselves in the art world or on the art market, since they are not familiar with mainstream aesthetic positions or economically motivated thinking. If the artist has no intermediary, the curator, dealer or buyer should act in a responsible way. Occasionally carers or therapists mediate, however today this task is usually carried out by the directors of art workshops, now often called ‘Open Studios’. This term encompasses studios in which lay people with intellectual disabilities and/or psychiatric experience, who are interested in art, are offered basic facilities for artistic creativity. However, the studios can be organized in very different ways.

With people and institutions as mediators, the question may emerge of who actually owns the respective works. Today, a decision supporting the mediator is much less usual than in earlier times, when psychiatrists unquestioningly claimed the works of their patients for themselves. But there are still situations in which the issue of ownership is not easy to establish, such as in illegally built, spacious environments.

The conference is constituted by the interaction between speakers, panel guests and presenters. We envisage a time slot of an hour for each lecture/panel plus moderation. The presentations should last no longer than 20 minutes; the moderators will not only mediate between the lectures/presenters and the audience, but will also in some cases take on the critical role of cross-referencing, thereby putting the content of the presentations in a wider context. It is therefore important that the moderators are also acknowledged professionals in the issues under discussion. The audience should be seriously considered as a discussion partner as well, so it is important that plenty of time for discussion is available.

The conference language is English; only in one case (di Stefano) will it be necessary to simultaneously translate during the lecture. The papers will later be presented in a reader. The speakers will have the task of incorporating the results of exchanges with respective moderators and audiences into their contributions.

The conference is deliberately internationally oriented. It is also important to us that central ethical issues around outsider art are discussed in dialogue with experienced and new representatives in the field.

Conference „Ethical Questions around Outsider Art“

Sammlung Prinzhorn, Heidelberg, 24./25.5.2013

Fr., 24.5.2013
1:30   Reception of the Conference Guests
2-2.15Thomas Röske/D: Introduction


Moderator: Frederik Poppe/D
2:15-3:15Randy M. Vick/US: Privacy, Disability, and Fame
3:15-4:15Viola Luz/D: We have more than a Dream: Responsibility. The Right to Equality.
4:15-4.45Coffee Break
Moderator: Elisabeth Gibson/GB
4.45-5.45Christian Berst/F: Galerist’s Viewpoint
5.45-6.45Johann Feilacher/AT: Psychiatrist and Art Promoter
6.45-8.00Supper Break
Moderator: Thomas Röske/D

Panel Discussion: The Artist's Viewpoint
Henrik Pätzke/SE, Kris Kapeller/D

Moderator: Thomas Röske/D

Sa, 25.5.2012
9:30     Reception


Moderator: Minna Haveri/FI
10-11Thomas Röske/D and Katrin Luchsinger/CH: Who owns the Outsider Art Works?
11-12Eva di Stefano/I: Who owns Environmental Art?
12-1:30    Lunch Break
Moderator: Maria Bach/DK
1:15-2:45Statement of the EOA board: propositions
2:45-3:00Ending of the Conference