Walla, August Alois
Surname:
Walla
First name:
August Alois
Era:
20th century
Field of expertise:
Fine arts
Place of birth:
Klosterneuburg (AUT)
* 22.06.1936
† 07.07.2001
Biography print

Austrian artist and long-term psychiatric patient.

 

August Walla (1936-2001) was born in Klosterneuburg (Lower Austria), a town near Vienna. He lived with his mother, who hoped to save him from future military service by raising him as a girl. Already in his youth, his behaviour attracted some attention in Klosterneuburg: he wrote and painted words and signs on paper – but also on trees and park benches. In 1955, at age 19, he was declared legally incompetent. He continued living with his mother and was repeatedly treated at the neighbouring Maria Gugging clinic. His medical records hold a variety of changing diagnoses, including “schizophrenia” and “debility”.

 

In 1970, Walla’s artistic talent attracted the attention of the Gugging psychiatrist Leo Navratil, who encouraged his artistic activities. Navratil organized exhibitions by which Walla and other Gugging patients – namely Oswald Tschirtner, Ernst Herbeck and Johann Hauser – became known to the public. The Gugging group’s breakthrough was in 1981 when the clinic’s former pavilion for infectious diseases was turned into a “center for art and psychotherapy” housing a therapeutic community of 18 patients. Walla became a permanent resident at the center (later renamed to “House of Artists”) in 1983 when his ageing mother was no longer able to care for him at home. He lived there until his death from pancreatic cancer in 2001. August Walla is considered one of the most versatile and important representatives of “Outsider Art”. His work is characterized by its eye-catching figures, rich colors and strong contour lines, including symbols and inscriptions borrowed from a polytheistic mythology.

 

Literature

Navratil, L. (1965): Schizophrenie und Kunst. Munich: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag.

Walla, A., L. Navratil (1988): August Walla. Sein Leben und seine Kunst. Nördlingen: Greno.

Navratil, L. (2000): Gespräche mit Schizophrenen. Die Gugginger Künstler Ernst Herbeck, August Walla, Oswald Tschirtner und andere. Neumünster: Paranus.

Pfaffel, V. (2006): August Walla und Klosterneuburg. In: Stadtgemeinde Klosterneuburg (ed.): Katalog zur Ausstellung im Stadtmuseum Klosterneuburg. Klosterneuburg: Stadtgemeinde.

Feilacher, J. (2006): Gugging. Ein Ort der Kunst. Munich: Brandstätter.

Feilacher, J. (2006): August Walla. In: Psychiatrie & Psychotherapie 2, (1), pp. 146-150.

Feilacher, J. (2012): August Walla. Weltallendeland. Katalog zur Ausstellung. St. Pölten: Residenz.

 

Exhibitions

August Walla: Weltenwandler – die Kunst der Outsider at Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt. 24 September 2010 – 9 January 2011.

August Walla: august walla.! Weltallende at Museum Gugging. 29 March 2012 – 28 October 2012.

 

Robin Pape

 

Referencing format
Robin Pape (2015): Walla, August Alois.
In: Biographisches Archiv der Psychiatrie.
URL: biapsy.de/index.php/en/9-biographien-a-z/159-walla-august-alois-e
(retrieved on:17.06.2019)