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Special Exhibition

“The Life of Thought is Real After All”
Else Blankenhorn – a Retrospective Exhibition

September 15, 2022 to January 22, 2023

In the 100th anniversary year of Hans Prinzhorn's Artistry of the Mentally Ill, the Museum is offering the first in-depth look at the oeuvre of Else Blankenhorn (1873-1920). Else Blankenhorn is the only woman to whom Hans Prinzhorn wanted to dedicate a chapter in his Artistry of the Mentally Ill. Even a planned monograph never came to fruition. Today, she is considered the secret star of the collection, having been represented in 98 exhibitions since 1929. Read more...

100 Years Artistry of the Mentally Ill

100 years ago, Hans Prinzhorn published his study Artistry of the Mentally Ill. A Contribution to the Psychology and Psychopathology of Configuration. In the book, he evaluated the teaching media collection of art created in psychiatric institutions, which we now call the “Prinzhorn Collection,” and which he had compiled during his time as an assistant physician at the Heidelberg psychiatric clinic from 1919 to 1921. In contrast to what was expected by experts, he claimed the paintings had no diagnostic value, and instead focused on the aesthetic qualities of the works. Idealizing the patients’ works as an expression of unadulterated, primal creativity, the psychiatrist and art historian struck a nerve of his time. The book met with great interest among artists and art enthusiasts, and brought renown to the collection, reaching far beyond the borders of Germany. In 2022, we will continue Prinzhorn’s work and focus on two artists in the collection for whom Prinzhorn planned, but never realized, individual publications: Else Blankenhorn and Heinrich Mebes. And we will present current research on Hans Prinzhorn in a symposium. In addition, in order to visualize the resonance of the book, we are publishing a video series with voices from psychiatrists, art historians, and many others. Read more...

We look forward to celebrating this anniversary with you!

Introduction to the Prinzhorn Collection

Our new guide to the Prinzhorn Collection is finally available in English! "Introduction to the Prinzhorn Collection" provides insights into this unique collection by presenting various related topics, such as surrealism, the use of special materials, medical crimes, or mediumistic art, and illustrating each topic with a work or an artist from our collection. The book can be purchased in the museum shop, or ordered by e-mail to or by phone at +49 (0)6221 / 56-44 92 (plus shipping).

Published and edited by Ingrid von Beyme and Thomas Röske, Heidelberg 2021, 80 pages, €15,00






Prinzhorn Collection
Voßstrasse 2
69115 Heidelberg

Phone: (+49) 06221/56 4492
Fax: (+49) 06221/56 1723