Théo (Théodore Wagemann)

Germany, 1918 - 1998

Théo was raised in a small village. As an adolescent, he spent most of his time engaged in smuggling. One day he was caught by customs officers, who shot at him. This incident would affect him for the rest of his life. It is probably at this time that he started drawing, mostly caricatures of church officials. Théo’s family physician helped him escape the gas chamber when Hitler implemented his plan to exterminate the mentally ill. He was, however, sterilized. As he grew older, he began to collect garbage. Théo was sixty-one years old when he started drawing hundreds of felt-tip-pen portraits of Hitler and other Nazi dignitaries. He added xenophobic slogans, mixed with series of numbers indicating the years he connected with the Third Reich (which for Théo was 3.3.3. Reich). As with Walla, Théo’s imagery and writing can be offensive, but his symbols are part of his personal mythology and do not carry the meaning often applied to them. His iconographic universe also refers to biblical scenes or imaginary tales.

© Courtesy christian berst art brut