Psychoanalytic Art history

Heinrich Wölfflin was not the only scholar to invoke psychological theories in the study of art. Psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud wrote a book on the artist Leonardo da Vinci, in which Freud used Leonardo's paintings to interrogate the artist's psyche and sexual orientation. Freud inferred from his analysis that Leonardo da Vinci was probably homosexual. However, the use of posthumous material to perform psychoanalysis is controversial and furthermore, the sexual background of Leonardo's time and Freud's are different.

Another important and famous exponent of psychoanalytic theory as applied to artists and their works is Carl Jung. His ideas about the collective unconscious and archetypal imagery in particular were popular especially among the American Abstract expressionists in the 1940s and 1950s.The surrealist concept of drawing imagery from dreams, and the unconscious, stream of consciousness in writing and painting defined the practice of many 20th century artists. C.G. Jung was a Swiss psychiatrist, an influential thinker, and founder of analytical psychology.

Jung's approach to psychology emphasized understanding the psyche through exploring the worlds of dreams, art, mythology, world religion and philosophy. Much of his life's work was spent exploring Eastern and Western philosophy, alchemy, astrology, sociology, as well as literature and the arts. His most notable contributions include his concept of the psychological archetype, the collective unconscious, and his theory of synchronicity. Jung believed that many experiences perceived as coincidence were not merely due to chance but, instead, suggested the manifestation of parallel events or circumstances reflecting this governing dynamic.Jung emphasized the importance of balance and harmony. He cautioned that modern humans rely too heavily on science and logic and would benefit from integrating spirituality and appreciation of the unconscious realm. Jackson Pollock famously created a series of drawings to accompany his psychoanalytic sessions with his Jungian psychoanalyst, Dr. Joseph Henderson. Henderson who later published the drawings in a text devoted to Pollock's sessions realized how powerful the drawings were as a therapeutic tool.

After Freud and Jung, several other scholars have applied psychoanalytic theory to art. Jacques Lacan's "The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis" is one of the most influential text concerning the unconscious gaze. Another well-known scholar is Laurie Schnieder Adams, who wrote a popular textbook called Art Across Time.
Material from Wikiedia