Skip to main content


Institutional Psychotherapy: Legacy and Constellations of Francesc Tosquelles

General Programming

dateMay 2–3, 2024 locationVirtual Event
  • The first registration button takes you to registration for Day 1. The second registration buttons takes you to registration for Day 2.

  • The Society of Fellows and Heyman Center for the Humanities
  • Remarque Institute (New York University)
  • American Folk Art Museum
email address [email protected]

Situated at the intersection of art and psychiatry, the exhibition Francesc Tosquelles: Avant-Garde Psychiatry and the Birth of Art Brut explores for the first time in the United States the legacy of Catalan psychiatrist Francesc Tosquelles. After fleeing the Nationalist government of Franco amidst the Spanish Civil War, Tosquelles arrived in 1940 at the Saint-Alban psychiatric hospital in Southern France, where he devised a series of revolutionary psychiatric practices.

Developed in conjunction with this four-venue international exhibition, the symposium “Institutional Psychotherapy: The Legacy and Constellations of Francesc Tosquelles” will draw from the themes and contributions featured in the multi-author English accompanying publication (edited by AFAM’s exhibition co-curators Carles Guerra, Joana Masó, Valérie Rousseau and Edward Dioguardi), as well as by Joana Masó’s English anthology on Tosquelles.

Conceived as an interdisciplinary dialogue, this online symposium will chart the history of the Saint-Alban “asylum-village” while studying past and present significance of “institutional psychotherapy”. Akin to Tosquelles’ methodologies and epistemologies, the symposium will not offer a doctrinal survey about pioneering psychiatry and occupational therapy. Instead, the presentations will guide us through experiences, artworks, and archival materials to reexamine mental health history and reconsider it in a larger political, social, and cultural context.

Aside from the exhibition co-curators, Joana Masó, Carles Guerra, Valérie Rousseau, and Edward Dioguardi, this symposium will gather speakers from Europe and the United States–scholars and professionals from the fields of French studies, law & social sciences, psychiatry and medical history, Western art, and media studies.

The first day of the symposium will examine the ways in which Tosquelles’s psychiatric, political, and cultural initiatives contribute to the reflection on mental health care and the search for disability justice. The second part will put in perspective the artistic and intellectual life at the Saint-Alban Psychiatric Hospital and the legacy of Tosquelles’s institutional psychotherapy in the arts and humanities. Closing remarks by W.J.T. Mitchell and Hannah Zeavin will address mental illness from a critical perspective.

Click here for the full schedule for the symposium.

Lead support for this program is provided by the Institut Ramon Llull, Nina Beaty, Susan Weiler, and the Anthony Petullo Foundation. Additional support is provided by the Art Dealers Association of America Foundation, the Dorothea and Leo Rabkin Foundation, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature, and the David Davies and Jack Weeden Fund for Exhibitions.

Co-organized by the Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona (CCCB) and Les Abattoirs, Musée– Frac Occitanie Toulouse, this four-venue collaboration was previously presented at the Abattoirs, CCCB, and Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid. It developed from a research project entitled “El llegat oblidat de Francesc Tosquelles” (The forgotten legacy of Francesc Tosquelles), co-produced by the Mir-Puig Private Foundation (Barcelona), the University of Barcelona, and Fundació Antoni Tàpies (Barcelona).