Paul Goesch

Between Avant-garde and Asylum

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12 May 2016 - 15 January 2017

Paul Gosch is one of the few trained artists in the Prinzhorn Collection. He was a distinguished expressionist painter and draftsman in his time and an active member of the avant-garde, who spent twenty years in psychiatric asylums until he was assassinated by National Socialist doctors in 1940. The museum, to which about 340 works by Goesch were donated from the family in 2015, is showing more than 150 drawings, gouaches and watercolors, many for the first time.

Paul Goesch’s diverse works mainly show fantastic architecture, heads, Christian and mythological scenes and nonobjective compositions. 1903-1911, he studied architecture and worked thereafter as a civil servant in Kulm/West Prussia. After the First World War, he belonged to the avant-garde art scene in Berlin and was a member of the November Group, the Working Council for Art and the Crystal Chain. He participated in exhibitions, published drawings and texts.Earlier on, he had already looked to sanatoriums for recovery from his „nervousness“, and 1917-1919 he lived in the Schwetz asylum. From 1921, Goesch remained almost without interruption in the Göttingen and Teupitz asylums. Here, he drew and painted on everything that was at his disposal, from paper and card board to wrapping paper and envelopes. For a while, he also continued to take on illustration jobs and was represented in exhibitions. In 1940, Nazi doctors murdered him.

In the art world, Paul Goesch has remained a crossover artist up until today. Although he was an equal member of the Crystal Chain beside Bruno Taut, Walter Gropius and Hans Scharoun, his reception has been hesitant because of his psychiatric treatment. And as an „institution artist“, many found him „too professional“. Hans Prinzhorn, who had already received works by Goesch about 1920, did not write anything about the Berlin artist in his seminal book „Artistry of the Mentally Ill“ – because he did not appear authentic enough. Today, we can rediscover Paul Goesch as a unique artist beyond the one or other prejudice. The Berlinische Galerie is showing Goesch in an exhibition alongside Bruno Taut and Paul Scheerbart as a visionary of modernity.