A very interesting exhibition is presented at the Benaki Museum, Athens, Greece, Cause of Death : Euthanasia: works from the Prinzhorn Collection. The exhibition presents works from the Prinzhorn Collection of the Psychiatric Clinic of the University of Heidelberg. The visitors will be able to see 96 works made by 18 artists that were mental patients. These patients and many more were victims of the euthanasia programme of the Nazis during 1939-1944.The patients mainly suffering from schizophrenia or severe depression were expressing their frustrations and feelings by drawing and painting. One could easily diagnose that something is different just by observing the works of art, which some of them could be characterized as brilliant. The exhibition will be held until March 13, 2011 and is organized by the Hellenic Psychiatric Association along with the Benaki Museum and the Goethe Institute.
Hans Prinzhorn (1886-1933) was a doctor and an art historian. After World War I, Prinzhorn took paintings from several psychiatric institutions and he managed to create the Heidelberg collection. The most positive outcome of his effort was that the so far marginalized “mad” patients were progressively socially accepted. The “mad” art was at the center of attention as well as the people evolved who were treated not just like insane patients but human beings. Art and psychiatry were combined and became a strong unity against politics of that period who were the true insane .