Collectors who, like Autolycus the Rogue in The Winter’s Tale, are snappers-up of unconsidered trifles, and whose collections subsequently prove to be of great historic or aesthetic value, or both, excite my admiration for their constructive single-mindedness and foresight. Hans Prinzhorn (1886–1933) was one such, David King (1943–2016) another.
Prinzhorn was a German psychiatrist who collected art produced by psychotic patients in mental institutions, little thinking that many of those artist-patients would be killed, as life unworthy of life, only a few years later in a rehearsal of the Holocaust.
Theodore Dalrymple is a contributing editor of City Journal and a Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute.
This piece originally appeared in The New Criterion