Ernst Herbeck

1920 to 1991, Austria

Born in Stockerau in Lower Austria, Ernst Herbeck had several surgeries at an early age to remedy his cleft lip and palate, and associated speech impediments. This resulted in his being held back at school and in his vocational training.

He received psychiatric treatment for the first time in 1940. At the time, he was working as a labourer in an ammunition factory. In 1944, he was drafted by the German military and discharged in 1945 as unfit. He came to Gugging in 1946. In the 1950s, his psychiatrist Leo Navratil encouraged him to draw and write; Navratil also published Ernst Herbeck’s drawings in Schizophrenie und Kunst (“Schizophrenia and art”). Initially, many of Ernst Herbeck’s poems and prose texts were published under the pseudonym Alexander. He was accepted into the writers association “Grazer Autorenversammlung” in 1978. After a period at a retirement home in Klosterneuburg, Ernst Herbeck voluntarily returned to Gugging in 1981 and lived there at the House of Artists until his death. In 2015, museum gugging showed his work as part of the exhibition “Eine leise Sprache ist mir lieber” (I prefer a quiet language). His works are in the national collections of Lower Austria (Landessammlungen Niederösterreich) and the Austrian National Library Collection of Manuscripts and Old Prints, Vienna (Österreichische Nationalbibliotek, Sammlung von Handschriften und alten Drucken, Wien).

 

Selected works