Morgenthaler's book about Wölfli quickly became well-known in intellectual circles. Rainer Maria Rilke wrote about Wölfli to his friend, Lou Andreas-Salomé:
I will be sending you post-haste a book which has occupied me greatly in this past week, almost to the exclusion of everything else (...). Wölfli's case can help us understand the source of artistic productivity (...). Read, read...
During his lifetime, Wölfli was visited by artists who
were fascinated by him and bought his works. He was rediscovered in the 1930s by André
Breton and again in the 1940s by Jean Dubuffet. Moreover, he collected works by other
artists who were mentally ill, a collection which can be seen today in a special museum in
Lausanne. The major part of Wölfi's works are collected in the Adolf-Wölfli-Stiftung at
the Bern Art Gallery, where research is being carried out on his oeuvre. Exhibitions are
planned, the immense collection of drawings is being catalogued, and the texts are being
transcribed and published.
Nørgård encountered Wölfli's work at an exhibition
entitled Outsiders at the Louisiana art gallery in 1979. After the Third Symphony
(1975), Nørgård's works became more marked by conflict and polarity - think, for
example, of the two movements of Seadrift: Being together and Torn
apart, the two poles of which - harmony and conflict - are already expressed in the
titles, and in which Nørgård did not use the infinity series.
Wölfli's texts form the basis of several of Nørgård's choral works, and in his opera, Det guddommelige Tivoli (The Divine Circus), scenes from Wölfli's real and imaginary life are set to music - a tribute from the composer 'to a brother'.
Wölfli's person is a symbol of polarity and of the absurd - elements which also have their place in Nørgård's music