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Artist With Alzheimer’s Drew Self Portraits For 5 Years Until He Could Barely Remember His Own Face
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Artist With Alzheimer’s Drew Self Portraits For 5 Years Until He Could Barely Remember His Own Face

In 1995, U.K.-based American artist William Utermohlen was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. This is a difficult diagnosis and illness for anyone, but before his death in 2007, Utermohlen created a heart-wrenching final series of self-portraits over the stages of Alzheimer’s, which lasted roughly five years. Documenting the gradual decay of his mind, created incredibly stark drawings, which were even displayed to medical students as learning material.

Alzheimer’s symptoms not only include memory loss or dementia and personality changes but also affects the part of the brain, which is responsible for visualizing capabilities, so crucial for a painter. With Alzheimer’s progressing, the art becomes visibly more abstract, blurrier and vague, due to the loss of the aforementioned capabilities.

An essay by the artist’s widow Patricia explains exactly why these images are so powerful; “In these pictures we see with heart-breaking intensity William’s efforts to explain his altered self, his fears, and his sadness.” It’s hard to say whether the changes in his portraits came about due to the loss of his artistic skills or due to changes in his psyche but, in either case, they document the emotional turmoil of an artist watching his mind slip away from him bit by bit.

More info: williamutermohlen.org | newstatesman.com | nytimes.com (h/t: reddit)

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SerenaCollins
Community Member
7 years ago

this is just heart wrenching to see this, I can only imagine what it did to his family.

ClaudiaErrington
Community Member
7 years ago

We need to find a cure for this. Just too painful.

JudithCarr
Community Member
7 years ago

the mind is a terrible thing to go to waste. Let's just Pray that they find a cure for this horrific disease soon.

Laura Woods
Community Member
2 years ago (edited)

Agreed Carl typing "thoughts and prayers" is the new "I dont want talk about it, I just want it to go away" in combo with "look at me caring about something" It's almost like people just cut and paste the shit on every post as a default. News Flash: we need more research and funding and caregiver support. Try supporting that instead of typing that you'll pray about it.

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SerenaCollins
Community Member
7 years ago

this is just heart wrenching to see this, I can only imagine what it did to his family.

ClaudiaErrington
Community Member
7 years ago

We need to find a cure for this. Just too painful.

JudithCarr
Community Member
7 years ago

the mind is a terrible thing to go to waste. Let's just Pray that they find a cure for this horrific disease soon.

Laura Woods
Community Member
2 years ago (edited)

Agreed Carl typing "thoughts and prayers" is the new "I dont want talk about it, I just want it to go away" in combo with "look at me caring about something" It's almost like people just cut and paste the shit on every post as a default. News Flash: we need more research and funding and caregiver support. Try supporting that instead of typing that you'll pray about it.

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