Book synopsis: Madness and Modernity sets out to chart the theme of madness across a variety of territories in Vienna 1900, including art and design, society and architecture, literature and psychiatry. This journey into what madness meant in the Austro-Hungarian capital at the turn of the twentieth century covers new ground and is essential reading for anyone interested in the history of modern European culture. The book plots the nexus between the study of mental illness and the modernist ideals of groups such as the Secessionists (including Gustav Klimt, Koloman Moser, Josef Hoffmann and Otto Wagner). Designs by Wagner for the Steinhof mental hospital are juxtaposed with portraits by Oskar Kokoschka of patients interned there; self-portraits by Egon Schiele are shown alongside photographs of neurological disorder; artworks by patients are explored in the context of the spaces they inhabited and the treatments they received. Over 100 arresting images give voice to these dialogues that existed between psychiatrists, writers, visual art practitioners and patients. Madness and Modernity alternates between long, thematic chapters and short, focused chapters on specific works of particular significance. Taken in parts or as a whole, it is essential reading for anyone wanting to understand how psychiatry influenced early modernism in the visual arts, and how modernism has since influenced our attitudes to the mentally ill
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