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Psychoanalytic Theory Of Art

  The Psychoanalytic Theory of Art focuses on the psychic life, not of whole societies or periods, but of individuals (albeit seen as part of societies). Art critics and historians attempt to discover the particular neuroses, sexual preferences, repressions and desires of a given individual in order to explain his or her creative work. In studying factors as ineffable as creativity, psychoanalysts and critics speak of the ‘sublimation’ of desire into a socially acceptable activity. A difficulty with the approach is that its theories cannot be tested, and its methodology tends to determine the outcome—a fact not lost on those, like the philosopher Karl Popper, who are antagonistic to prescriptive theorizing.

Freud\'s interest in the unconscious—he wrote an admired, and seminal, study of Leonardo—was enthusiastically taken up by the surrealists, who saw his studies of the dream as central to their own desire to disrupt the norms of perception. But their difficulty, namely that of articulating the unconscious, is shared by a psychoanalytic theory of art in general, which finds difficulty in proving the connection between psychosis and the form it takes in art. For example, are the acidic colours and tortuous contours of van Gogh\'s paintings a manifestation of the artist\'s madness or of expressionism (with which he shares many stylistic conventions)? Are Schoenberg\'s tortured harmonies in Die Glückliche Hand, or Dostoevsky\'s or Gorki\'s nightmare descriptions of the underbelly of Tsarist Russia, the artist\'s own memories, or objective evocations of madness and historical veracity respectively? PD MG KMcL



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Other Terms : Conflict Theory | Rites Of Passage | Substance
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