Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Swiss Artist Who Painted Baba's Tomb

Helen Dahm (1878 – 1968) was the artist who painted the original murals inside Meher Baba's samadhi (tomb) in India.

Self portrait of Helen Dahm
Helen Dahm was born in Egelshofen (today Kreuzlingen), Switzerland. She studied art in Zurich and Munich. Her early work included hand-colored, hand-pressed fabric prints, mostly expressionistic in style. In the early 1930s, Helen suffered from severe depression and did very little art. However, a meeting with Meher Baba in Cannes, France in 1937 had a profound effect on her. In 1938, by invitation of Meher Baba, Dahm came to live in his ashram in Meherabad, India and painted the interior murals in his would-be samadhi (tomb) that had been completed earlier that year. Her paintings are still viewable there today, and were restored by American artist Dot Lesnik in 1989. For health reasons Dahm eventually returned to her homeland of Switzerland.

After this period, Dahm's work took an inspired religious turn, becoming occupied with imagery including expressionistic interpretations of paradise, the Pietà, the crucifixion of Christ and angels. After this period her work became increasingly abstract.

Helen Dahm only received recognition late in life. In 1967, at the age of 89, she had her first major retrospective exhibition in Switzerland.

Helen Dahm, Meherabad, India 1938

Text from Wikipedia

See also Meher Baba's Life and Travels website for a terrific set of photos and more information.


  1. Your article does not mention that Helen Dahm was a lesbian. A book published about her in German (Helen Dahm: Monographie, by Doris Wild, Elisabeth Grossmann and Regula Witzig, published by ABC Verlag, Zurich, in 1984), now out of print, acknowledged this. The reason for her depression when she first came to Baba was due to the fact that she had broken up with her woman partner. The German Wikipedia entry on Helen Dahm states: "Nach der Trennung von der langjährigen Lebensgefährtin Else Strantz im Jahre 1932 geriet Helen Dahm in eine schwere existentielle Krise." This means that after the separation from her long-time life companion Else Strantz in 1932 Helen was cast into a severe existential crisis. It then says, "1938 löste sie ihren Haushalt auf und zog mit einer Frauengruppe in den Ashram von Meher Baba nach Indien." In 1938 she gave up her household and went with a group of women to Meher Baba's ashram in India. The idea that Helen Dahm was "a follower of Meher Baba" ought not to be in the first line of the Wikipedia article in English, which in my opinion ought to be modeled more on the German article.

  2. Hey Kendra how it matters here either she was lesbian or not. she was doing Baba's work by Baba's will thats enough.