Hans Prinzhorn

Hans Prinzhorn ( born June 6, 1886 in Hemer, Westphalia, † June 14, 1933 in Munich) was a German psychiatrist and art historian. According to him, the Prinzhorn Collection is named, a collection of paintings of the mentally ill.

Prinzhorn studied art history and philosophy at the universities of Tübingen, Munich and Leipzig, where he received his doctorate in 1908.

Prinzhorn went to England. He harbored a desire to become a singer and wanted to do a vocal training in England. During the First World War Prinzhorn received a medical and psychiatric training as an assistant to a military surgeon.

Prinzhorn live philosophical approach oriented to the philosophy of Ludwig Klages.

System of collection and first book publication

1919 Hans Prinzhorn 's assistant Karl Wilmann at the Psychiatric University Hospital in Heidelberg. His job was there to serve a collection of sculptures of the mentally ill, which had been created by Emil Kraepelin. As Prinzhorn left the University Hospital in Heidelberg in 1921, included his archiving more than 5,000 paintings, created by ≈ 450 patients of the Psychiatric University Hospital in Heidelberg, the cases in the terminology of the so-called medical professionals.

Published in 1922 Prinzhorn his first and most influential work, the Book Artistry of the mentally ill, richly illustrated with photographs from the collection, found insane patients. While Prinzhorns psychiatric colleagues reserved to his published work responded to art lovers, art experts and psychologists were deeply impressed by the work documented patients. The book in which the author with the border areas of individual artistic forms of expression and the design aspects of psychosis sick dealt, formed one of the first attempts to analyze the creations of the mentally ill.

Subsequent years

Prinzhorn worked in the sequence for a short time in sanatoriums in Zurich, Dresden and Wiesbaden. From 1925 he led a psychotherapy practice in Frankfurt am Main. Prinzhorn wrote more books that could not achieve the success of his first work. His hope of obtaining a permanent job at a university, was not met.

Disillusioned by his professional failure and the failure of three marriages moved Prinzhorn to an aunt in Munich. Backed he lived from occasional lectures and writing of texts. Politically Prinzhorn in his last years of Mussolini and Italian Fascism with Nazism. He published 1930-1932 a series of articles about National Socialism.

1933 died Prinzhorn in Munich from typhoid.

Afterlife and Museum

Soon after the death of the psychiatrist and art historian Hans Prinzhorn the Prinzhorn Collection was stored in an attic of the Heidelberg University. In 1937, some works from the collection in a Nazi propaganda exhibition, the Feme - Degenerate Art exhibition, presented in Munich and abused for comparison with works by artists of classical modernism to defame works of German Expressionism in juxtaposition.

2001, the Prinzhorn Collection is a museum in the University Hospital of Heidelberg, the Museum Prinzhorn Collection, Psychiatric University Hospital in Heidelberg, Voss-Strasse 2, dedicated in a converted former auditorium. Here, the collection is still epistemological, scientific exploration.

Regularly changing exhibitions take place here, in which is introduced at the opening ceremony, with scientifically -depth discussions on the topic concerned, by clinicians or art historians.

The Marburger Kunstverein organized in 2009 an exhibition under the motto: - " madness, works from the life coaching and the Prinzhorn Collection in Heidelberg " -. Several of the mentally disabled active artists whose work has been shown in this exhibition were then personally present at the opening.

Since 1965 the Hans Prinzhorn Medal is awarded by the German Society for Art and psychopathology of expression annually. Past winners include, among other Leo Navratil, Alfred Hrdlicka, Hans Küng and Lothar -Günther Buchheim.


In his native town of Hemer urban secondary school and the local clinic for psychiatry and psychotherapy have been named with differentiated treatment tasks in the insurance and fully supply by Hans Prinzhorn. Support the clinic is the Regional Association of Westphalia -Lippe; it is also a training, continuing education and training institution. There are also in the local rock sea Museum of the Civil and Local History Association, a ( largely consisting of copies) Prinzhorn Archive. The coined by Ludwig Klages literary scholar Yukio Kotani campaigned for the announcement of the Prinzhorn's work in Japan.