Obsession and Visual Art

in Obsession

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print November 2008 | ISBN: 9780226137827
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226137797 | DOI:
Obsession and Visual Art

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Obsession has become collectible. Indeed, the value of an artist increases if the work is seen as the product of obsessive, sometimes life-destroying, angst. The link between genius and obsession is assumed to be commonplace in our own time. But there was a development over time of the link between obsession and value in art. This chapter considers two actual visual artists flourishing at the end of the nineteenth century in Germany and Switzerland, which provide two cultural roadmaps into obsession. The first case, the obsessive art of Max Klinger, is an artist whose content and form is obsessive, but whose life is not. In the second case, of Adolf Wölfli, the artist is someone who is institutionalized and his art is seen as the product of his disability.

Keywords: genius; visual artists; Max Klinger; Adolf Wölfli; disability

Chapter.  6399 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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