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Art and Artist: Creative Urge and Personality Development Paperback – September 17, 1989
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Text: English (translation)
Original Language: German
From the Back Cover
'Art and Artist' explores the human urge to create in all its complex aspects, in terms not only of individual works of art but of religion, mythology, and social institutions as well. Based firmly on Rank's knowledge of psychology and psychoanalysis, it ranges widely through anthropology and cultural history, reaching beyond psychology to a broad understanding of human nature.
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Top Customer Reviews
To be sure the book is about art - artist - audience (aesthetic pleasure). But it is also a book about the human existential condition - domination of the social over the individual - our limited capacity of knowledge (i.e. personal epistemological doubt) - the indifference of nature toward human existence (i.e. ontological terror) - the possibility of overcoming these human existential restrictions.
Actually, Rank articulates the impossibility of escaping socio-cultural domination, epistemological doubt, and ontological terror, in our corporal form. Hence human beings escape into speculation into non-corporal form, via the process of creation, play, and the pleasure of the aesthetic as a latent promise of, or possibility for, immortality.
In the first four chapters Rank is dealing with the relationship between the individual and society. Rank argues that human beings always necessarily exist and develop in a social context; hence individuals necessarily develop a cultural consciousness. Once an individual becomes aware of their culturally determined consciousness, consequently cultural determined motivation, there can emerge an interest in the discovery of the self, i.e. who we are beyond our cultural determination.
The Artist, much like the individual generally, is a cultural phenomenon. Her or his Art must begin and be articulated as a historical genre. At the same time Artists often attempt to reach beyond genre, i.e. beyond their cultural condition. This is the Artist's attempt to discover the self, beyond the culturally determined self.
Chapters five through ten are historical and anthropological chapters. Here Rank is attempting to show that human beings have historically had a deep interest to understand beyond our cultural relativity, as an immortal spiritual self (importantly, Rank never claims this proves that the human soul is immortal, but more humbly, human psychological health seems to have historically depended on such a belief). The aesthetic expresses beauty, the non-corporal, and ultimately according to Rank, the possibility, and only the possibility, of immortality.
Chapter eleven through fourteen are then addressing Beauty and Truth as beyond the culturally relative; why the Artist attempts to escape historical genres, while also being pulled back by interpretation as "genre"; why social success of the Artist is a type of internal and spiritual failure; and finally the urge toward creativity and the process of creation itself is an urge for personal redemption.
It should not be forgotten this is a book of human social theory. Rank wants to understand the aesthetic from the perspectives of both the artist and audience, but also from a historical perspective or art history/genre, and from a philosophical perspective Beauty, Truth, and the urge for Immortality.