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Art and Psychoanalysis

Art and Psychoanalysis
Maria Walsh

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Often derided as unscientific and self-indulgent, psychoanalysis has been an invaluable resource for artists, art critics and historians throughout the twentieth century. Art and Psychoanalysis investigates these encounters. The shared relationship to the unconscious, severed from Romantic inspiration by Freud, is traced from the Surrealist engagement with psychoanalytic imagery to the contemporary critic's use of psychoanalytic concepts as tools to understand how meaning operates. Following the theme of the 'object' with its varying materiality, Walsh develops her argument that psychoanalysis, like art, is a cultural discourse about the mind in which the authority of discourse itself can be undermined, provoking ambiguity and uncertainty and destabilising identity. The dynamics of the dream-work, Freud's 'familiar unfamiliar', fetishism, visual mastery, abjection, repetition, and the death drive are explored through detailed analysis of artists ranging from Max Ernst to Louise Bourgeois, including 1980s postmodernists such as Cindy Sherman, the performance art of Marina Abramovic' and post-minimalist sculpture.

Innovative and disturbing, Art and Psychoanalysis investigates key psychoanalytic concepts to reveal a dynamic relationship between art and psychoanalysis which goes far beyond interpretation. There is no cure for the artist - but art can reconcile us to the traumatic nature of human experience, converting the sadistic impulses of the ego towards domination and war into a masochistic ethics of responsibility and desire.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 | Distortion and Disguise: The Dream-Work
Chapter 2 | Uncanny Eruptions
Chapter 3 | Refashioning Fetishism and Masquerade
Chapter 4 | Female Fetishism in the Expanded Field of Narcissism
Chapter 5 | Eye and Gaze: Restoring Body to Vision
Chapter 6 | The Evolution of Abjection
Chapter 7 | Black Narcissus
Chapter 8 | Repetition and the Death Drive
Chapter 9 | Returning to Melanie Klein
Chapter 10 | ‘Real-Making’: A Transitional Phenomenon
Chapter 11 | New Skins for Old
Select Bibliography

Author Info

Maria Walsh is Senior Lecturer in Fine Art Theory at the University of the Arts, London.


‘...these little books give a rich sense of the vitality of art ’
Times Literary Supplement

'Conceptual art—the art that is discussed in this book—requires rigorous thought and interpretation to be appreciated. Art & Psychoanalysis demonstrates a successful way (or ways) in which this can be done.'
Shannon G. Caspersen, The American Journal of Psychiatry

'Walsh [...] explains some complicated theoretical matters in a clear, concise fashion.'
Peter Suchin, Art Monthly


Cindy Sherman's Theatres of Perversity Read

Bibliographic Info

Imprint: I.B.Tauris
Publisher: I.B.Tauris & Co. Ltd.
Series: Art and Series

ISBN: 9781848857988
Publication Date: 30 Nov 2012
Number of Pages: 192
Illustrations: 10 bw integrated illustrations

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