1876 - 1935 (?)
Oskar Voll was born in 1876 in Blankenburg. He completed a tailor’s apprenticeship and went on to work in this profession in various companies locally and in other parts of Germany. It is known that he was committed to asylums several times under the Nazi regime, but there are no records of his life after 1935.
Voll, who is one of the most notable artists in the Prinzhorn Collection, created a highly charged body of work, which includes the obsessive examination of military figures, especially soldiers and medieval knights. He is known to have held 'Reichstags speeches' at pubs and restaurants, and most of his drawings and sketchbooks reflect political themes and issues of the early 19th century. With their narrative format, Voll’s drawings also seem to recall the early decades of silent film, and echo German military traditions and correctness in portraying side views of static, uniformed men.
In contrast with such figurative subjects, a second body of Voll’s work features landscapes and architectural variations; structured using repeated depictions of standard streets and simplistic trees, the central panels of the works show houses styled as medieval castles, and ideas for urban planning.
Prinzhorn, who exhibited and analyzed works by psychiatric patients, creating a discourse of art-theory, made a collection of around 5000 drawings, sculptures, and paintings within a short period from 1919 to 1933. He also published his now internationally-renowned book, Artistry of the Mentally Ill, in 1922. It was an inspiration for Surrealists including Max Ernst, André Breton and other members of the Parisian Scene of the 1930s and 40s.