The Soul of Art: Analysis and Creation

The Soul of Art: Analysis and Creation

The Soul of Art: Analysis and Creation

The Soul of Art: Analysis and Creation


The beginnings of art are lost in the dim reaches of prehistory, eons before humans began recording and codifying their experiences in writing. And yet philosophers, artists, and historians have for centuries noted the intimate and perhaps inseparable relationship between human consciousness and the artistic impulse.

As analyst and professor Christian Gaillard notes, we can see some of the earliest expressions of this intimacy in the cave paintings at Lascaux, and the relationship continues to the present day in the works of modern creators such as Jackson Pollock and Anselm Kiefer. What fascinates Gaillard--and, indeed, what fascinated Carl Jung--is, among other things, the notion that art enables us to explore our inner landscapes in ways that are impossible by any other means.

In The Soul of Art: Analysis and Creation, Gaillard takes readers on a tour of his own "gallery of the mind," examining works of art from throughout history--and prehistory--that have moved, challenged, and changed him. He also explores instances where particular works of art have proven deeply significant in his or his colleagues' understanding of their analyses and their ability to serve as capable guides on the journey toward self-awareness.


The Soul of Art is deep. It goes back to our beginnings. It is aboriginal and archetypal. Cave people were artists, and as so eloquently described in this text, we honor their creative capacities and ours. Cave paintings also are seen in Africa, Texas, and in other locations around the world. When I lived in Texas, I remember visiting Panther Cave, near Del Rio, and standing in awe of the beautiful, magnificent panther depicted on the wall. This book cites the French cave paintings at Lascaux, with which the author is keenly familiar. I was astonished by the way Gaillard explores this and was filled with wonder. Some speculate that these cave paintings were made in an altered state of consciousness. This same theory has been advanced by Harry J. Shafer in Ancient Texans. Nevertheless, they appear childlike, and we encourage our analysands to drop the ego and produce similar kinds of creative artwork.

All of this follows Jung, who embodied the soul and spirit of art. Throughout his life, Jung maintained that he was not an artist, but it is clear that he was able to paint from the depth of the collective unconscious. When I was in Texas, I wanted to know more about these paintings, and now we can all learn from this magnificent book about those same stick figures, shamanic priests, and designs—specifically the ever-present mandala. What was striking to me then and in this book is how humans are characterized as stick figures, the animals appear more lifelike, and the shamans seem larger than life.

Through revelatory analysis, Gaillard explores the meaning of these ancient paintings and their modern descendants. He doesn’t limit his exploration of art to paintings, but includes literature and religion—Ulysses and Moses, for example. Since Jung’s technique of active imagination brings forth these aboriginal symbols, Gaillard starts out his work in the analyst’s consulting room. There is an early “encounter in Herculaneum” in the first century bc, and then we move . . .

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