Tuesday, October 24, 2006

What does Alzheimer's look like?


NYT has a riveting article and slide show about an American artist in London named William Utermohlen. Utermohlen learned he had Alzheimer's in 1995; the Times shows some of his self-portraits from 1995 through 2000. Now 73, he lives in a nursing home and no longer paints. Snip:
The paintings starkly reveal the artist’s descent into dementia, as his world began to tilt, perspectives flattened and details melted away. His wife and his doctors said he seemed aware at times that technical flaws had crept into his work, but he could not figure out how to correct them.

“The spatial sense kept slipping, and I think he knew,” [his wife] said. A psychoanalyst wrote that the paintings depicted sadness, anxiety, resignation and feelings of feebleness and shame.

I wonder what a portrait of multiple sclerosis would look like. I used to dabble in art, but it gradually stopped being fun: I found I no longer had the energy required for the creative enterprise. Maybe that's what my portrait of MS would look like--a blank canvas, an unmarked sheet of paper, an instrument unplayed.

2 comments:

mdmhvonpa said...

I used to draw ... a lot. Now not so much. Although, if you compared my script from a decade ago, you would certainly see the effects.

Charles-A. Rovira said...

I used to draw. I illuminated my own works and stuff like that,

One of my friends was a really good artist, Tapanni Knutilla, and looing at his stuff disabusedme from thinking my stuff was anything more that dilletante scribblings.

I find it amazing that, while the drawings descend more and more into impressionism, their sense of proportion improves.

The talent inherent in the last piece is just as good as in the first. The man was talented.

The NYT gave us a gem from someone who was truly gifted. And we shoul be thankful for the gift the artist left us to contemplate.