Adolf Wölfli – An introductory gallery

This entry is part 8 of 6 in the series Creators and the Creative Process

Outsider Artists: Adolf Wölfli

Adolf Wölfli (1864-1930)

Former farmhand and labourer Adolf Wölfli was a Swiss artist, regarded as one of the first to be labelled as an ‘outsider artist’. While in Waldau, a mental asylum near Bern, Wölfli created a massive 25,000-page illustrated narrative, constructing “a new history of his childhood and a glorious future with its own personal mythology” by weaving together an obsessively complex work of texts, drawings, collages and musical compositions.

Wölfli’s work has inspired composers including Per Nørgård (who wrote ‘The Divine Circus’, an opera based on Wölfli’s life), Georg Friedrich Haas, Gösta Neuwirth, Anton Prestele and Wolfgang Rihm (composers of the chamber opera ‘Wölfli Szenen’), and Graeme Revell, DDAA, and Nurse With Wound (who released the LP ‘Necropolis, Amphibians & Reptiles: The Music of Adolf Wolfli’). The last word on Wölfli must go to French Surrealist André Breton, who claimed his work as “one of the three or four most important oeuvres of the twentieth century”.

Adolf Wölfli Foundation website

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