Monday Mar 03, 2003

Jung at Art

Picasso. In: Jung C., Collected Works of C. G. Jung, Vol. 15. Princeton University Press, 1966. 160 p. (p. 135-141).

For more on Jung, visit Questia —the online library for research.

Art from the unconscious did not go unnoticed by Carl Jung:

The psychology, not the esthetics, of Picasso’s art is discussed. By viewing his art as a pictorial representation of psychic processes, analogies may be drawn between Picasso’s work and the art done by mental patients. Both these are forms of nonobjective art that draws its contents from the unconscious.

The pictorial expression of these unconscious contents makes them more accessible to the patient’s understanding. The two different types of art produced by neurotic and schizophrenic patients are described and the similarities between Picasso’s work and that of the second group of patients are noted. These similarities do not imply that Picasso is schizophrenic. The two types of art have one thing in common: their symbolic content. In either type of art a series of images begins, as a rule, with the symbol of the Nekyia, the journey to Hades, the descent into the unconscious. Examples of the Nekyia in Picasso’s work are pointed out. The symbol of the Harlequin, whose journey through the psychic history of mankind has as its object the restoration of the whole man by awakening the memories of the blood, is examined. The symbols of madness experienced during a schizophrenic’s period of distintegration are usually followed by images that represent the coming together of opposites. It is noted that in Picasso’s latest paintings this motif is seen very clearly. No predictions are made about Picasso’s future work, although the basic tragedy of the Harlequin figure is noted and compared with a similar figure in Nietzsche’s Zarathustra.

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