Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Schizophrenic art

One topic I did an interesting study on in my earlier years was comparing the artistic expressions of various mental pathologies. To little surprise, the art created by schizophrenics was the 'busiest' and most provocative of the lot. I wasn't able to locate any of the pieces I used back then but I did find some equally impressive ones now. The first series is from artist Karen Blair, who also has a blog. She has catalogued her gallery corresponding to the years she was on particular medications. In order of Risperdal, Zyprexa, and Seroquil:


Electricity Makes You Float

What Jack Saw

These paintings are from a website put together by a father for his son John. It's also a touching chronicle of his perception of his son's illness. As dazzling as John's abstract paintings are, most impressive is the detail in his faces.

From an exhibit at the History of Medicine In Lund, Sweden, here are a few pieces from patients of the pre-psychopharmacological drug era. Works from Maria Magdalena Rudbeck, Rudolf Persson, and Clara Miranda Almér are shown here:

From Erik Lombardo I discovered William Kurelek and Louis Wain, two artists who came across schizophrenia at different stages of their lives. Kurelek's onset was early and he was able to overcome his torment - this page has terrific samples from his remarkable descent into madness and back. Here is one of his more popular pieces - The Maze:

Louis Wain was a popular postcard and children's book illustrator known for his cats. Unlike Kurelek, Wain developed schizophrenia later in life and was never able to recover. Two before and after pieces show the changes in the artist:

During my research I found this oddity in Wikipedia's entry on schizophrenia. Look at the end of the third paragraph. I took a snapshot before the page gets edited as I don't think it will remain:


Blogger  said...

Amazing comparison. Thank you for posting these examples.

I tried to read the paragraph in the Wikipedia entry but wasn't able to. Can you tell me what it says specifically?

5/25/2008 6:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

glad you enjoyed it! to see the wiki entry, click on the picture and it will open up. it looks like somebody had briefly pranked a section of the entry to read as though written by one who suffers from schizophrenia. the entry was corrected by the next day.

6/15/2008 6:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's actually just a quote from the Simpsons, Bart says this after Homer builds him a clown shaped bed...

6/25/2008 1:57 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

That little phrase is from a hot topic shirt also. Someone was just being a jackass.

8/20/2008 1:12 PM  
Blogger Michelle Rebecca Hermon said...

Interesting post! It's very fascinating how the perception is reflected upon the art :)

11/29/2008 2:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


12/11/2008 2:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, Can't sleep clowns will eat me is a wikipedia editor that I found annoying, and so apparently did that person. lol

can't sleep clowns will eat me should have a wiki page about himself

1/11/2009 12:05 AM  
Blogger XXX said...

These are so interesting. I have another shoking one (it's the one with the two kind of bleeding faces..)



11/28/2010 3:50 AM  
Anonymous Scot said...

Thanks Aaron, terrific collection. You have a very interesting website btw.

11/30/2010 8:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great blog! I am doing a school project on the reflections of mental illness and art, and after spending hours searching the web for pictures, this made my day.

5/15/2011 1:08 PM  
Anonymous John Hogan said...

Aaron, I have paranoid schiziophrenia, I have an art degree. i paint 9-12 hrs a day, you can see some of my traditional art on Blogger, I paint my mind now

6/23/2011 7:09 PM  
Blogger Gentle Designer said...

I also have schizophrenia and I am a working artist-(painting & wood working) You can see my art on gentledesigncompany.com . I have had a very difficult time in painting my mind. However after seeing the pictures on here it has made easier to feel free. message me through my website if you guys want to see the results. Awesome gallery by the way!

8/16/2011 4:43 PM  
Anonymous Ramon Z said...

I am as well. but it remains absolute " in learning how to draw, we lear how to think in learning how to really think we understand ourselves " I feel the convulsing turns of my ideas become more willing docile to my will, I tell you another secret.. drawing is mostly muscular responce not to be cofuse with either the internal images taking place in your brain or whatever internal dialogs you might be having with your self even your intent, while all of this might place an effect in your final construction.. I sill argue that even Art its just your destination or not even your choice of destination. but to Draw, to think, to Draw... its like a muscle. the more you do it you can't but to get better and better at it. step aside from your self or destination... you just reach for paper and pen, go on lads have a great time whereabouts of elsewhere your allowed kingdoms of neverendings

2/25/2012 8:31 AM  
Blogger Karen May Sorensen said...


I am Karen Blair. I got married and now my name is Karen Sorensen. You can see more of my artwork at my website, schizoaffectiveartist.com. I had a therapist who got annoyed with me calling myself schizophrenic, she said you are schizoaffective. So that others don't get pissed, or confused, I'm more careful with my terms. But really there is little difference except the mood disorder added. I can sometimes be a depressed schizophrenic - there, that's accurate!

Fun to see other's artwork!

3/12/2012 11:59 AM  

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