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Else Blankenhorn

German artist

Born 1873

in Karlsruhe, Germany

Died 1920

in Pirna, Germany

Biographical Detail: 

  • Grew up in a bourgeois family
  • Attended the Victoria-Pensionat and received education and training as a musician and artist; studied painting, photography and music
  • Played the piano and sang until she lost her voice at the age of 26
  • Suffered from neurasthenia and later from hypochondria and nightmares; showed signs of schizophrenia when she claimed to be the wife of the German Emperor Wilhelm II
  • From 1899 Lived in the Swiss sanitarium “Bellevue”, located at the Bodensee, where her major body of art developed; tried to keep her works secret, but they attract attention, besides other of painter Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and the psychiatrist Hans Prinzhorn (Heidelberg)
  • After 1920 works are curated and shown as part of the Prinzhorn collection

Artistic Work: Gouache works,  drawings, poems, compositions and sketches/drafts for bank notes, often also portraying scenes from her imaginary life

Movement/Style: Expressionism

Selection of Works: 

Ohne Titel (Sängerin)  (before 1919)(gouache)

Die zweifache Tochter (audio piece)

 Further literature about Else Blankenhorn:

Doris Noell-Rumpeltes: »Else Blankenhorn – Vom Projekt der Versöhnung des Unversöhnlichen«, in: Expressionismus und Wahnsinn«. Hg. von Herwig Guratzsch u.a. München u.a. 2003.

ungesehen und unerhört. Künstler reagieren auf die Sammlung Prinzhorn. Bd. 2: Literatur, Theater, Performance, Musik. Hg. von Ingrid von Beyme und Thomas Röske. [Mit 4 CDs]. Heidelberg, 2014.

Artist’s Estate: 

Sammlung Prinzhorn, Heidelberg, Germany (Link to Website)

Story Map of the Artist’s Life: 

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