The way in which the Williams family came to collect Adolf Wölfli’s Der San Salvathor
holds a special place in Marsha’s heart. While working in New York and searching for a birthday present for Robin, Marsha spotted Wölfli’s masterpiece in Phyllis Kind’s gallery. “I thought it was actually maybe a rug kind of maquette, for lack of a better word, because it has that kind of mandala order to it that looks almost like a carpet. Once I saw that on the wall, I just couldn’t see anything else.” Marsha was not the first to be enamored by the work. Der San Salvathor
had also caught the eye of an important American collector and a prestigious museum was interested in the piece for their collection as well. However, in the end, the work found its way to the Williams Collection. While it was not the artist's troubled history that initially drew Marsha to the work, Marsha quickly became fascinated by his story. She recounted, “With Wölfli there's a story in everything he did. I just think it is really captivating. Back then, if you had serious mental health issues, they gave you things like colored pencils and butcher block paper to encourage the exploration of expression of your personal stuff.”
It is Wölfli’s great achievement that he could create his art both within the domain of his illness and in spite of it. With the pictorial and literary means of his art, Wölfli was able to express the existential condition that this psychosis forced him to experience, and in so doing, he allows us an insight into his particular condition humaine.
Elka Spoerri and Dianle Baumann, "St. Adolf-Giant-Creation: The Art of Adolf Wölfli," in Folk Art, Vol. 27, No. 4, Winter 2002/2003, p. XX