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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Art as a metaphor of psychic expression, May 26, 2009
This review is from: Art and Psyche: A Study in Psychoanalysis and Aesthetics (Paperback)
A provocative, astutely argued study on the three principal psychoanalytic approaches to art. The first considers the relations between an artist and the artist's work; the second focuses on the work of art itself; while the last emcompasses the intricate relation between the art and its audience. Ellen Hendler Spitz avails herself with illustrations and examples drawn from a variety of art forms, including painting, sculpture, literature, music, and dance. This exploration of aesthetics is defined by the practice and its place in individuality with instrumental ruminations on the meaning of style and its relationship to subjectivity, authenticity, expression and pathologies. The labors here included are compelling but fail to illuminate the social place of art qualifying the act of artistic creation as a subjective phenomena - although Spitz does integrate to a very slight degree the theme, she in no way exhausts the social dimension deeming it to be beyond the scope of the essay, nevertheless it seems a latent concept that she steers away from in an effort to provide a concentrated read of the artistic domain as it is described by psychoanalysis.
The book excells when it discusses Foucault's reading of Magritte and the heterodox exposition of Freud's Leonardo, while she strains herself to include a reading of Mahler that is inadequate but fitting her enterprise and position. The relevance of symbolism, dreams and intention are well documented and expertly expounded, while her ignoring art in psychopathological asylums is lamentable, the overall picture is commendable and a valuable service to the topic, which has received numerous inquiries but none have been remotely sucessful, whereas Spitz's study inspires applause for her laudable approach and her passionate take. Her wiritng and research is thorough and interdisciplinary, the book presented with broad strokes and imaginative execution; the quality of her insights impressive and serve to engage in an ongoing dialogue this contribution both surveys and furthers admirably.
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