Wirziana. Die andere Welt des Peter Wirz


Peter Wirz

Editor: Andres Müry
Year: 2020
Format: Publication; 260 pages, 33 × 24 cm, softcover, dust jacket, thread stitching
Text: Andres Müry
Language: German
Design: Bureau Dillier
ISBN: 978-3-907112-16-8
Price: CHF 48.00

His drawings have titles like Der Drohfinger Gottes (The Threatening Finger of God) or Die Züchtigung, Die Todestreppe (The Chastisement, Stairway to Death) or Wie Du mir – so ich Dir (Tit for Tat). Born in Zurich in 1915 as the son of the soon-to-be-famous New Guinea researcher Paul Wirz, fear and violence accompanied Peter Wirz from an early age. Raised by pietistic aunts in Basel, sent off to homes and farms because of ‘abnormality’, committed as a ‘psychopath’ and finally castrated, he lived the inconspicuous life of a gardener's assistant and died in Basel in 2000. From the 1940s onwards, he created his artistic oeuvre in secret as a self-taught artist; it comprised around 700 colour pencil drawings in A4 format, complete with explanatory texts. He invented his own style derived from Christian occidental heraldry and refashioned two themes in particular with the body at the centre: love, which he never knew, and punishment, which he knew very well indeed. The wondrous body of work, which unites beauty and horror, would have remained undiscovered, had it not been for the Basel-based artist Dadi Wirz, Peter’s half-brother, who has been collecting it since the 1970s and has occasionally placed it in group art brut exhibitions.

The Basel author Andres Müry, a nephew of the artist, now presents a comprehensive view of his life and work in the monograph Wirziana. Die andere Welt des Peter Wirz (Wirziana. The Other World of Peter Wirz) for the first time. 55 full-size colour plates, a selection of texts and sketches as well as photographs and other documents of his life accompany his essay Der Kontinent Wirziana (The Continent of Wirziana) In her contribution, art historian Monika Jagfeld, director of the St. Gallen Museum im Lagerhaus, situates the work in the context of art brut and outsider art.

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