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The Gallery of Miracles and Madness

Insanity, Art and Hitler's First Mass-Murder Programme

Charlie English



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William Collins
27 October 2021
'A riveting tale, brilliantly told' Philippe Sands The little-known story of Hitler's war on modern art and the mentally ill. In the first years of the Weimar Republic, the German psychiatrist Hans Prinzhorn gathered a remarkable collection of works by schizophrenic patients that would astonish and delight the world.

The Prinzhorn collection, as it was called, inspired a new generation of artists, including Paul Klee, Max Ernst and Salvador Dali. What the doctor could not have known, however, was that these works would later be used to prepare the ground for mass-murder.

Soon after his rise to power, Hitler-a failed artist of the old school-declared war on modern art. The Nazis staged giant 'Degenerate Art' shows to ridicule the avant-garde, and seized and destroyed the cream of Germany's modern art collections. This action was mere preparation, however, for the even more sinister campaign Hitler would later wage against so-called degenerate people, and Prinzhorn's artists were caught up in both.

Bringing together inspirational art history, genius and madness, and the wanton cruelty of the fanatical artist-Fuhrer , this astonishing story lays bare the culture war that paved the way for Hitler's first extermination programme, the psychiatric Holocaust.
Imprint:   William Collins
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 240mm,  Width: 159mm,  Spine: 31mm
Weight:   580g
ISBN:   9780008299620
ISBN 10:   0008299625
Pages:   336
Publication Date:  
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Charlie English is the former head of international news at the Guardian. A fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, he is the author of The Snow Tourist and the widely acclaimed The Book Smugglers of Timbuktu. He lives in London.

Reviews for The Gallery of Miracles and Madness: Insanity, Art and Hitler's First Mass-Murder Programme

ADVANCE PRAISE FOR THE GALLERY OF MIRACLES AND MADNESS 'One of the most liberating moments in modern art was Hanz Prinzhorn's discovery that people hospitalised as insane often filled their asylum days with startling creativity. Perhaps only in 1920s Weimar Germany where expressionism and dadaism were exploring the dark sides of sex and fantasy could the art of the mentally ill first get its due. And perhaps only in Germany could the story Charlie English tells so well have ended in such horror. English takes us through uncharted artistic waters in a narrative of great humanity: a gripping journey into art, madness and modern history' Jonathan Jones, author of Sensations 'Dazzling. The Gallery of Miracles and Madness explores a little-known chapter of World War II - the story of psychiatric art and the rise of the Third Reich. This poignant narrative centres on the complicated psychiatrist Hans Prizhorn and the eccentric patient artists whose work helped usher in a new epoch of the modernist avant-garde only to become fodder for Hitler's hateful ideology of degeneration . Richly wrought, and deeply researched, it's also a salient reminder to beware of pseudoscience' Susannah Cahalan, author of Brain on Fire and The Great Pretender PRAISE FOR THE BOOK SMUGGLERS OF TIMBUKTU 'An exemplary work of investigative journalism that is also a wonderfully colourful book of history and travel' William Dalrymple, Observer, Books of the Year 'This spellbinding record of Timbuktu's intellectual heritage blends accounts of European explorers to the ancient city with contemporary reportage' New Yorker 'A piece of postmodern historiography of quite extraordinary sophistication and ingenuity [written with] exceptional delicacy and restraint' TLS 'Part reportage, part history, part romance and wholly gripping a riveting read' Sunday Times

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