The New York Times has an interesting article about William Utermohlen, an American artist living in London. Utermohlen was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 1995, and charted the progression of the disease in a series of self portraits.
The New York Academy of Medicine will be exhibiting Utermohlen’s self portraits tomorrow. To go with the exhibition will be a number of lectures about art and Alzheimer’s. According to Dr. Bruce Miller, a neurologist at the University of California who will be giving one of the lectures, “Alzheimer’s affects the right parietal lobe in particular, which is important for visualizing something internally and then putting it onto a canvas. The art becomes more abstract, the images are blurrier and vague, more surrealistic.”
So, Utermohlen’s self portraits reflect not just the physical changes that are taking place in his brain, but also psychological changes which alter his self-perception. The two are, of course, very closely linked.