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Article
March 11, 1988

Alzheimer's Disease: Unskilled Vulgarity Decays Into Stunning Artistic Genius

Author Affiliations

Lugano, Switzerland

Lugano, Switzerland

JAMA. 1988;259(10):1495. doi:10.1001/jama.1988.03720100017013
Abstract

To the Editor.  —In the recent article by Drs Cummings and Zarit,1 the reproductions that are supposed to illustrate the progressive intellectual decay of the artist show in fact a progression toward better pictorial quality, if not toward genius.Figure 1 in the article, painted near the time of onset of Alzheimer's disease, is a vulgar, unskilled amateur painting with gross errors in perspective and nauseating colors.Figure 2, painted seven years after the onset of disease, is the work of a genius, recalling the best of Van Gogh.Figure 4, completed at the nadir of his Alzheimer's dementia, could compete with the best attainments of modern art.This leads to one question: Are our contemporary artists collectively suffering from advanced Alzheimer's or from another kind of dementia?

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