In 1995 at age 61, William Utermohlen, an American artist living in London, received a devastating diagnosis. He had Alzheimer’s. In response to his illness (or perhaps to spite it) he began to paint self-portraits. They became a way for him to try to understand his condition.
Until he was admitted to a nursing home in 2000, Utermohlen painted regular portraits of himself during those first years of his diagnosis. What we see is a man struggling to remain in touch with the world around him. Utermohlen passed away in 2007, but his self portraits have lived on as a way for us to understand the devastation of Alzheimer’s.
A self-portrait of William Utermohlen from 1961.
All of the portraits together.
Before his diagnosis, Unterhohlen was a successful artist. He spent all of his time drawing and painting. Here are a few examples of his other work:
(H/T: New York Times)
Alzheimer’s is a terrible, confusing disease. It steals our loved ones away from us, even before they pass on. What William was able to achieve is both insightful and moving. Share his last works with others by clicking on the Share button below.