Powerful Self-Portraits Chronicle Artist’s Descent Into Alzheimer’s Disease

American artist William Utermohlen provides a very personal account in dealing with Alzheimer’s through a series of self-portraits.

While based in London Utermohlen was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and immediately began documenting the progression of the disease through self-portraits from the year of his diagnosis in 1995 at age 61 to the moment he’s admitted into a nursing home in 2000.

His portraits aim to create a better understanding an individual’s descent into dementia and its devastating effects.

As you view the series notice how all his works gradually lose detail as Utermohlen’s memory fades and technical skills deteriorate until all that is left of the memory of himself is a scribbled skull and faint facial features.

“In these pictures, we see with heart-breaking intensity William’s efforts to explain his altered self, his fears and his sadness,” Utermohlen’s widow, Patricia, wrote in a 2006 essay on her husband’s work.

After his death in 2007, Patricia recalled, “Even the time he was beginning to be ill, he was always drawing, every minute of the day. I say he died in 2000 because he died when he couldn’t draw anymore. He actually died in 2007, but it wasn’t him by then.”

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