This under-appreciated artist had a difficult and insular life, but he still managed to express his extraordinary imagination and technical ability in art. Born in Schwerin, Germany, he trained as an artist in Munich and an architect in Berlin. He worked in both professions before psychological instability prevented him from living independently.
In 1917, Goesch was admitted to a psychiatric clinic for hallucinations. He would remain there for two years. After his release he settled in Berlin and became a member of the artists’ associations Die Gläserne Kette (The Glass Chain) and Novembergruppe (November Group) together with Bruno Taut, Walter Gropius, and Lyonel Feininger. He also joined the Arbeitsrat für Kunst (Workers Council for Art). But by 1922, newly diagnosed with dementia praecox (which modern psychology would likely label schizophrenia), he had to return to a psychiatric clinic.
The clinics in which Goesch resided granted him varying degrees of freedom to make art, which was usually fantastical, architectural, or religious in nature. His minutely detailed images attest to many hours of diligent work, as well as a seemingly infinite mental stock of architectural and historical imagery. He was abruptly barred from creating in 1934, when the Nazis sent him to the Psychiatric Hospital of Brandenburg at Teupitz and forced him into manual labor. Goesch ultimately became a victim of the Nazis’ murder regime targeting mentally ill and physically disabled people: tragically, he was killed in 1940.
The remarkable quality of his art has brought Goesch posthumous attention. Many of his works are included in the collection of psychiatrist and art historian Hans Prinzhorn, now held at the University of Heidelberg. His works are also part of the collections of the Akademie der Künste in Berlin, Berlinische Galerie Landesmuseum für Moderne Kunst, Fotografie und Architektur, the Hamburger Kunsthalle, and the Centre Canadien d’Architecture in Montréal.