As an adolescent, Friedrich Schröder-Sonnenstern spent time in several institutions for young delinquents. In 1910, accused of theft, he threatened the police with a knife. He was sent to the psychiatric hospital of Allenberg in Prussia. There, he was diagnosed with “dementia praecox”. When he left the hospital, he published poems, in which he criticized social injustice and national corruption. During the First World War, he worked for the post office, but was arrested for passing illegal merchandise and had to be hospitalized again. After the war, he declared himself an astrologist, clairvoyant, and claimed that he could cure people with magnets. In 1930, he was arrested for debts and illegal medical practice, and once again hospitalized at Neustadt, where he began to draw. After the Second World War, he moved in with his girlfriend and earned his living by selling wood. When he was temporarily unable to walk, he began drawing again. The death of his companion, in 1964, affected him deeply and he started to drink. Friedrich Schröder-Sonnenstern’s work has its own place in art brut. His imaginary characters, posing in acrobatic positions and representing his personal mythology, were often interpreted in the light of Surrealism.
SEE ALSO :
Kunst & Wahn. Kunstforum Wien. Vienna : Dumont, 1997.