Lassenberger, Willibald

Willibald Lassenberger (*1952) an artistically gifted person living with Down-Syndrome, combines graphic structure with color areas of an expressionistic flavor. Towards the late 1970s his remarkable drawing skills opened the way for the creation of Art Workshop de la Tour in 1980. It is one of the older ateliers, in which persons with a mental handicap work as full-time artists. It was Willibald Lassenberger, whose remarkable drawings initiated the idea of an art workshop with an exclusively artistic emphasis. Lassenberger is exempted from occupational therapy in crafts, was for some time the only member of the atelier. The quality and figural richness of his work increased steadily. In a relatively short time span he achieved artistic fame. A dramatic change occurred during the last decade of the past century. In his 47th year he found a new style of painting and drawing.

The Lutheran Foundation de La Tour – founded by Elvine, Countess de La Tour in 1874 – is a member of the DIAKONIE ÖSTERREICH and runs several social service facilities in the Austrian federal state Carinthia. Amongst these there are homes for people with a mental handicap. For this group occupational therapy is provided, especially by working in handicrafts. Crafts workers, once recognized as artistically gifted, may then be transferred to the art workshop as full-time members. This art workshop is one of the oldest institutions of its kind in Austria. It all began with the appearence of Willibald Lassenberger.

Beginning in 1980 Professor Max Kläger from the Heidelberg University of Education promoted the development of the workshop. He initiated a long-term research project that yields significant insights regarding the unique features of the art of intellectually constrained persons.

References: Kläger, M.: Die Bilderwelt des Willbald Lassenberger, Baltmannsweiler: Schneider 1992.

Die Lebenswelt des Willibald Lassenberger in der Evangelischen Stiftung de La Tour, Videofilm.

Willibald Lassenberger
1952 Austria -