Paul Goesch is born on 30 August in Schwerin, Germany as the sixth child by Carl and Dorothee Goesch. His father is a district court lawyer.
The Goesch family moves to Berlin where Paul spends his childhood and adolescence and has his first encounters with art and architecture. Due to physical frailty, he often misses school and finds himself socially isolated.
Goesch is fascinated by Catholicism which will become the source of later artistic inspiration. In 1914, he will convert.
Studies art in Munich and architecture in Karlsruhe and at the technical college at Berlin-Charlottenburg. Travels to Italy and France, southern Germany, and the North Sea. Maintains close contact with his brother, Heinrich Goesch, and his wife who is a cousin of Käthe Kollwitz.
Goesch moves in with his brother Heinrich in Dresden where Heinrich is a professor. There he paints the walls of a gym with frescos representing the life of Buddha. Together with Heinrich, he becomes interested in psychoanalysis. He studies Rudolf Steiner’s version of Theosophy known as anthroposophy, and he applies the principles of this school of thought to his life, architecture and art.
Goesch spends several months in Switzerland to take part in the anthroposophic movement and to help construct the Goetheanum in Dornach.
Goesch works as chief state architect in Kulm, Prussia (now Chelmno in Poland). During this time, he starts concentrating on painting and begins a series of "fantasy architecture" plans and sketches.
Goesch suffers from hallucinations and is hospitalized in a psychiatric clinic for two years.
Goesch is released from hospital and lives in Berlin where he becomes a member of Die Gläserne Kette, [The Glass Chain or Crystal Chain]–a chain letter that took place between November 1919 and December 1920–a correspondence of architects founded by Bruno Taut forming a basis of expressionist visionary architecture in Germany. Goesch also maintains contact with the November Group and the Arbeitsrat für Kunst. He befriends Walter Gropius, Rudolf Steiner, and Hans Scharoun.
Goesch works with Bruno Taut in Magdeburg on a restoration project; Taut publishes artwork and essays by Goesch in his Expressionist journal Frühlicht ("Daybreak" or "First Light"). Goesch’s “fantastical architectural concepts” are shown in several exhibitions including the group show Ausstellung für unbekannte Architekten in the Graphisches Kabinett in Kurfürstendamm, Berlin.
Diagnosed with "dementia praecox," (what modern psychiatry would likely label schizophrenia) Goesch is admitted to the psychiatric clinic in Göttingen where his brother-in-law, the head of the psychiatric institution, allows him to continue working as an artist. Here, Goesch creates many watercolors and drawings and paints on all materials he can find: envelopes, the back of posters and newsprints, as well as the back of his own artwork. He also uses the walls of his rooms whose murals have been conserved and can be seen today. Goesch’s complete works comprise approximately 2,000 objects, predominantly watercolors and drawings.
Goesch’s brother-in-law is transferred by the Nazi Regime for disciplinary reasons. Goesch is brought to the Psychiatric Hospital of Brandenberg at Teupitz, where the Nazis bar him from painting and force him into manual labor.
SS Personnel remove Goesch from Teupitz and execute him as part of Aktion T4, The Nazi Euthanasia Program, which included the systematic killing of at least 200,000 mentally ill and physically handicapped people by medication, starvation or in the gas chambers. The date and place of Goesch’s murder have been disputed; the most reliable data indicates gasification in the Brandenburg jail on 22 August 1940.
Note: Dementia praecox ("precocious madness") refers to a chronic psychotic disorder characterized by rapid cognitive disintegration, usually beginning in the late teens or early adulthood. The term was popularized by German psychiatrist Emil Kräpelin (1856–1926) in 1893 and in 1896 he detailed descriptions of a condition that would eventually be reframed and relabeled as schizophrenia. The primary disturbance in dementia praecox is not one of mood (as is the case in manic-depressive illness), but of thinking, attention, memory, and goal-directed behavior.
Paul Goesch. Aquarelle und Zeichnungen, exhibtion organized by the Berlinische Galerie in the National Gallery, Berlin.
Paul Goesch. Architekturzeichnungen und ‚Phantasien‘, Institute for History of Art, University of Bonn.
Paul Goesch. 1885-1940. Architekt und Maler. Mitglied der „Gläsernen Kette“. Eine Auswahl seiner Werke in Reproduktionen, Kunstfoyer im Kulturrathaus, Dresden.
Ausstellung für unbekannte Architekten in the Graphisches Kabinett am Kurfürstendamm, Berlin.
Berlin – Ort der Freiheit für die Kunst, touring exhibition organized by the National Gallery and the Academy of Fine Arts, Berlin.
Die gläserne Kette. Visionäre Architektur aus dem Kreis um Bruno Taut 1919-1920, Academy of Fine Arts, Berlin and Museum Leverkusen, Germany.
Die Prinzhorn-Sammlung. Bilder, Skulpturen, Texte aus psychiatrischen Anstalten, Athenäum Heidelberg.
100 Zeichnungen ausgewählt aus der graphischen Sammlung der Berlinischen Galerie, Berlinische Galerie, Berlin.
Kunst und Wahn, Bank Austria Kunstforum in Vienna.
Vision und Revision einer Entdeckung, Sammlung Prinzhorn, Heidelberg.
Expressionismus und Wahnsinn, Schleswig-Holsteinisches Landesmuseum, Schleswig, Germany.
Expressionismus und Wahnsinn, Sammlung Prinzhorn, Heidelberg.
Künstler in der Irre, Sammlung Prinzhorn, Heidelberg.
Prinzhorn Collection, City Gallery Prag and Museum Stift Admont, Austria.