August Walla

1936 to 2001, Austria

August Walla was born in Klosterneuburg in Lower Austria as the only child of the already 40-year-old Aloisia Walla, who was a postal worker. His father did not want to get married but paid child support.

August Walla was raised by his mother and grandmother. His problems already became evident in school. In 1941, he was admitted to the notorious institution “am Spiegelgrund” in Vienna. He lived at the Vienna Psychiatric Hospital (Wiener Städtische Nervenklinik) from 1943 to 1944 until he was transferred to the Biedermannsdorf reformatory (Erziehungsanstalt Biedermannsdorf), which he survived. He started living with his mother again in 1945 and completed special school education in 1951. In 1952, he first entered the psychiatric clinic at Gugging for a year. Then he lived with his mother again, sometimes in emergency shelters and other times in nursing homes. In 1970, after his mother had brought him back to the clinic, Leo Navratil discovered his artistic talent. For that reason, he visited August Walla at Walla’s garden in the Klosterneuburg meadows and found numerous apparently useless items there, covered with mystical writing, symbols and words. The written word was the main communication tool for him, since he hardly ever spoke with anyone but his mother. August Walla is one of the most universal of the Art Brut artists. Early on, he started integrating the whole environment into his artistic productions. He wrote, combined texts and paintings, created objects and took photos. In 1983, his mother and he moved from the old military base in Klosterneuburg to the House of Artists. His room in the House of Artists was entirely painted as a unique artwork that reflects his cosmos. Today the room is preserved as a museum room. He created a personal mythology with his own gods and symbols. He died of cancer. His works can be found in nearly all large international Art Brut collections.

 

Selected works