Wagemann, Theodor, dit Théo
Théo Willi Brandt, 1981 felter pen and coloured pencil on paper 37,5 x 25 cm © photo credit Collection de l’Art Brut, Lausanne
Wagemann, Theodor, dit Théo, (1918-1998), Germany
BiographyThéo grew up in a small village near Aix-la-Chapelle (Germany). While smuggling some food in 1930, the young boy ran into several customs officials who sought to frighten him by firing a few rifle shots. The incident left him literally speechless and ever more withdrawn. He then worked on a farm for a few years. With the country in the throes of Nazism, Théo escaped the extermination camps thanks to the intervention of the family doctor. Unfortunately though, his mental disability obliged him to undergo a forced sterilization. Thereafter, his behavior grew ever stranger: he would, for instance, collect rubbish which he stocked at home.
When he turned sixty-one, the family decided to have him committed to a psychiatric institution. There he diligently applied himself to drawing, using as supports parchment paper salvaged from the establishment kitchens and colored pencils or felt-tip pens given to him by his relatives. Théo drew numerous portraits of Adolf Hitler and other Nazi dignitaries, which he liked to complete with attributes and inscriptions. Biblical and religious scenes also served as inspirations for his iconographic world.