Adolf Wölfli. From the Cradle to the Grave. Bedlam=Walking Wheel, Provisional Map of Both the Kingdom of Spain and Portugal, Dromedary Indian and Vosel Stubborn Donkey Mask, Lea Tantaria, Condor Eggs, Hall of Blacks, London South, Map of the Two Principalities Sonoricije and the West Bzimbzabazaru, Helvetic Cathedral in Northern Amazonian Hall, Atlantic Ocean Waves and Přístaf Cradle Lisbon (top to bottom). 1912.
Adolf Wölfli’s first epic From the Cradle to the Grave contains over 2,970 pages of text and 752 illustrations that he tied into nine books. It’s written in the form of a travelogue, the main character a boy named Ada (a domesticated form of the name Adolf) who travels the world with his family in the name of progress and exploration. The work transforms Wölfli’s unhappy childhood into an amazing story full of great adventure, discovery and incredible adversity—always gloriously overcome. The text mixes poetry with prose and extensive enumerations, and is accompanied by color maps, portraits and illustrations depicting battles, crashes and other disasters. In these drawings we first encounter a motif in Wölfli’s work called the “Vögeli”, a bird character that can be seen as the protector of the ubiquitous Wölfli alter ego.