Dietrich Orth

1956 – 2018

  • Querschnitte von Schuhen zum sich vorstellen beim gehen, 1987, acrylic on canvas, 122 x 79 cm
  • Schwerebild, 1988, oil and mixed media on canvas, 197 x 128 cm
  • Begleitung zu fließbandähnlichen Arbeiten, 1988, acrylic on canvas, 128 x 92.5 cm
  • Krankenhaus - Nationalsozialismus, 1987, acrylic on canvas, 161.8 x 104.5 cm
  • Enddarm-Peristaltik-Störung, undated, acrylic on canvas, 134 x 190 cm
  • Anleitung zu beschwingtem, freudigen Gehen, 1987, acrylic on canvas, 169.8 x 113.5 cm
  • Geborgenheitsgefühl, undated, acrylic on canvas, 172 x 127 cm
  • Bewirkt die Ausschaltung einer unerwünschten Liebe, mixed media on paper, 70 x 50 cm
  • Zufriedenheits-Trainings-Bild, 1988, mixed media on paper, 30 x 42 cm
  • Die wahre Richtigkeit des Betens im Liegen, 22.1.91, pencil on paper, 21 x 28 cm

There are many self-taught artists whose work blurs the distinction between outsider and insider art, but Dietrich Orth's eccentric paintings confuse any such disparity in a way all of their own. Dietrich Orth, whose mental illness has been diagnozed as clinical psychosis and who has been in and out of psychiatric clinics for the last dozen years, is a kind of outsider conceptual artist. His paintings, which have the awkward simplicity of children's book illustrations, often depict strange sculpture-like objects, along with written instructions for using them.

Certain images, like one showing a man standing on a triangular piece of carpet demonstrating an object to help one "feel dignity while walking slowly," have a captivating bizarreness reminiscent of some of Bruce Nauman's early work. Another image, which shows a hand painting, a floating abstract configuration, offers a written description of both the accumulating pleasure and fatigue intrinsic to the actual act of painting. The words don't always make perfect sense, but they communicate the artistic process with a rare and touching accuracy.