William Utermohlen (1933-2007) was an American artist living in London who painted realistically when everyone else was doing Abstract Expressionism.
When he learned that he had Alzheimer's, he began a series of self portraits to chronicle the process of the disease.
Proportions become uncertain, strange bounding lines appear, and finally the features melt into a indistinguishable mass.
There's some debate about whether the paintings chronicle the effect of the disease on his capacity at visual processing and hand-eye skills, or whether they document his increasing feelings of confusion and disorientation.
In other words, was he struggling against the loss of his ability to produce a realistic painting, or was he using the language of modern art to make an expressive choice about his feelings?
Dr. Bruce Miller, a University of California neurologist, says, “Alzheimer’s affects the right parietal lobe in particular, which is important for visualizing something internally and then putting it onto a canvas." Utermohlen's wife, a professor of art history, says that he was using his art to understand the disease. She said, “The spatial sense kept slipping, and I think he knew.”
More discussion at Reddit and The New York Times