Art can broaden our personal freedom, by extending the understanding of our choices, while it simultaneously increases human liveliness through the exploration of a more intense perception of colors, forms, sounds and values of the world we live in. In the field of psychology, even though the unsolved problem of defining the term exists, there is a dynamically increasing area, the psychology of art, which is characterized by the multitude of prospects and approaches that attempt to analyze and explain it.

Art Psychology is a scientific area that studies the perception, the knowledge and the characteristics of art. According to the general standards of art psychology, art can be studied through perception and through the processes that take place in the human brain. The fact that art functions in a cultural continuity, helps us attempt to analyze it. These are the general principles that guide most of the work in art psychology; that art can be studied by asking questions about our perception and that art operates in a cultural continuum that one can come to terms with, through the analysis of art.


History of Art Psychology

1880 — 1950

One of the earliest to integrate psychology with art history was Heinrich Wölfflin (1864 – 1945), a Swiss art critic and historian, whose dissertation Prolegomena zu einer Psychologie der Architektur (1886) attempted to show that architecture could be understood from a purely psychological (as opposed to a historical-progressivist) point of view.

Another important figure in the development of art psychology was Wilhelm Worringer, who provided some of the earliest theoretical justification for expressionist art.

Numerous artists in the twentieth century began to be influenced by the psychological argument, including Naum Gabo, Paul Klee, Vasily Kandinsky. The French adventurer and film theorist André Malraux was also interested in the topic and wrote the book La Psychologie de l'Art (1947-9).

1950 — present

Though the disciplinary foundations of art psychology were first developed in Germany, there were soon advocates, in psychology, the arts or in philosophy, pursuing their own variants in the USSR, England (Clive Bell and Herbert Read), France (André Malraux, Jean-Paul Weber).

In the US, the philosophical premises of art psychology were strengthened in the work of John Dewey. His Art as Experience was published in 1934, and was the basis for significant revisions in teaching practices whether in the kindergarten or in the university. Manuel Barkan, head of the Arts Education School of Fine and Applied Arts at Ohio State University, and one of the many pedagogues influenced by the writings of Dewey, explains in his book, The Foundations of Art Education (1955), that the aesthetic education of children prepares the child for a life in a complex democracy. Dewey himself played a seminal role in setting up the program of the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia, which became famous for its attempt to integrate art into the classroom experience.

The growth of art psychology between 1950 and 1970 also coincided with the expansion of art history and museum programs. The popularity of Gestalt psychology in the 1950s added further weight to the discipline. The seminal work was Gestalt Therapy: Excitement and Growth in the Human Personality (1951) that was co-authored by Fritz Perls, Paul Goodman, and Ralph Hefferline. The writings of Rudolf Arnheim (born 1904) were also particularly influential during this period. His Toward a Psychology of Art (Berkeley: University of California Press) was published in 1966. Art therapy drew on many of the lessons of art psychology and tried to implement them in the context of ego repair. Marketing also began to draw on the lessons of art psychology in the layout of stores as well as in the placement and design of commercial goods.

Art psychology, generally speaking, was at odds with the principles of Freudian psychoanalysis with many art psychologists critiquing, what they interpreted as, its reductivism. The writings of Carl Jung, had a favorable reception among art psychologists given his optimistic portrayal of the role of art and his belief that the contents of the personal unconscious and, more particularly, the collective unconscious, could be accessed by art and other forms of cultural expression.

By the 1970s, the centrality of art psychology in academy began to fade. Artists became more interested in psychoanalysis and feminism and architects in phenomenology and the writings of Wittgenstein, Lyotard and Derrida. As for art and architectural historians, they critiqued psychology for being anti-contextual and culturally naive. Erwin Panofsky, who had a tremendous impact on the shape of art history in the US, argued that historians should focus less on what is seen and more on what was thought. Today, psychology still plays an important role in art discourse, though mainly in the field of art appreciation.

Material from Wikipedia.


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

Art has no limits

Art is almost as old as humankind itself. Art in all its forms is determined by the time in which an art piece was created and it expresses the humanity's ideas, desires, needs and the hopes of each society imprinting a situation that takes place in a given moment of history. Simultaneously however, art advances beyond these limits that are determined from a specific period in time and it creates a promising constant growth. In all its forms of development, art always includes a certain amount of magic that fascinates people and helps them tame an unexplored world.

Art offers people a balance with the world around them and since is not permanent, this means that art was not only important in the past, but it will always be equally important to us. There is something about art that expresses an inalterable truth, which is exactly what fascinates us just when we look at paintings made by our ancestors.

People feel the need to enjoy all kinds of art, poetry, painting, music, theatre and etc, because they enjoy identifying themselves with a painting, with a musical piece or with the characters of a novel or a play. Our tendency to respond so strongly to the non-real makes us perceive it even more intensively than we perceive the reality itself. Through art we experience a freedom that everyday routine deprives from us and even though art captures us with a completely different way than reality, this momentary captivity constitutes of a contentment that is even caused by an art piece or a play that portrays a dramatic or tragic theme.

It is obvious that human beings wish to be something more just who they are. They long to feel completed. They want to escape the limits of their own life and be involved with something outside themselves, something however that is essential for them at the same time. They try to connect their limited ego to art in more universal existence, in order to make their individuality more social. Brecht points out that in a society, the direct result of an art work is to depress the social discriminations in order to create a whole that is not separated in casts, but is universal. Carl Jung portrays that the contents of the personal unconscious and more particularly, the collective unconscious, could be accessed by art and other forms of cultural expression.

The artist's work is a process that is highly conscious and rational, in the end of which the work of art appears to have tamed reality. In order to be an artist one should be able to capture, preserve and alter any experience into memory, the memory into expression and the expression into shape. One should also know art, enjoy it and understand the rules, the forms and the way with which they can tame reality and conquer it in the convention of art.

In the alienated world we live, we should portray social reality with a fascinating way, through a new light and through the estrangement of the object and the characters. An art piece should fascinate the observers not only with a passive identification to themselves, but with the involvement of logic, which requires thought and decision, so the spectator does something more productive than a simple observation of an art piece. Through art individuality becomes second and what comes first is sharing the experience with others, because art helps us express our endless capability to sympathise with different ideas and experiences. Aesthetics and Art 2008, G.Zografidis, G. Kougioumoutzakis.