Topics in American Art since 1945

By Lawrence Alloway | Go to book overview

JACKSON POLLOCK'S
"PSYCHOANALYTIC
DRAWINGS"

Until recently the psychoanalysis of art was restricted to dead artists. In the hands of Freud, retrospective analysis was an extension of the 19th-century idea of art as a means of contact with great minds. For all the distressing symptoms that he detected in Leonardo, Freud's view of artists was essentially old-fashioned and ennobling. Subsequent psychoanalysts possessed neither Freud's tact nor his sense of the continuum of culture, with the result that crude post-mortems on absent heads flourished. One victim, Vincent van Gogh, was analyzed at different times in terms of syphilitic dementia and schizophrenia, of "affective epilepsy" and "epileptic psychosis," aggravated respectively by Oedipal conflict and addiction. No wonder Artaud was driven to proclaim "the good mental health of Van Gogh who, during his whole life in this world we live in, burnt only one hand in addition to cutting off his left ear." Later psychoanalysts have shown themselves to be more sophisticated in terms of art and more sensitive to the human pain of illness. (Martha Wolfenstein, "Goya's Dining Room," The Psychoanalytic Review, XXXV [1966].) Validation, however, remains illusory.

In the United States, though not in Europe, we have a situation in which attendance on a psychologist, of one school or another, is common, not to say statistically normal. With such an input of patients, artists must be showing up regularly and, as it happens, the general level of art appreciation has risen, including that of doctors. We ought, therefore, to have the beginning of a literature on the psychoanalysis of live artists, or artists personally known to the analysts who write about them. One sign of this are the so-called "Psychoanalytic Drawings" by Jackson Pollock. (C. L. Wysuph, Jackson Pollock: Psychoanalytic Drawings [Horizon Press, 1970].)

____________________
SOURCE: From The Nation (November 2, 1970), 444-445.

-58-

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Topics in American Art since 1945
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Topics in American Art Since 1945 *
  • Contents 7
  • List of Illustrations 9
  • Introduction 11
  • Acknowledgments 13
  • Abstract Expressionism 15
  • The Biomorphic '40s 17
  • Melpomene and Graffiti - Adolph Gottlieb's Early Work 25
  • The American Sublime 31
  • Barnett Newman - The Stations of the Cross and the Subjects of the Artist 42
  • Jackson Pollock's Black Paintings 52
  • Jackson Pollock's "Psychoanalytic Drawings" 58
  • Willem De Kooning 62
  • The Sixties, I - Hard Edge and Systems 65
  • Leon Polk Smith 67
  • Systemic Painting 76
  • Serial Forms 92
  • Sol Lewitt 96
  • Agnes Martin - (with an Appendix) 100
  • Gesture into Form - The Later Paintings of Norman Bluhm 111
  • The Sixties, II - Pop Art 117
  • Pop Art - The Words 119
  • Jim Dine 123
  • Rauschenberg's Graphics 125
  • Jasper Johns' Map 136
  • Marilyn as Subject Matter 140
  • Roy Lichtenstein's Period Style 145
  • The Reuben Gallery - A Chronology 151
  • In Place 155
  • The Sixties, III - Problems of Representation 161
  • Hi-Way Culture - (with Notes on Alan D'Arcangelo) 163
  • Art as Likeness - (with a Note on Post-Pop Art) 171
  • George Segal 182
  • Photo-Realism 185
  • Art and Interface 193
  • Allan Kaprow, Two Views 195
  • Artists and Photographs 201
  • The Expanding and Disappearing Work of Art 207
  • Stolen - (with Arakawa: an Interview) 213
  • Radio City Music Hall 218
  • Robert Smithson's Development 221
  • Art Criticism and Society 237
  • Notes on Op Art 239
  • The Public Sculpture Problem 245
  • The Uses and Limits of Art Criticism 251
  • Index 271
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