The Artist's Mind : A Psychoanalytic Perspective on Creativity, Modern Art and Modern Artists book cover
1st Edition

The Artist's Mind
A Psychoanalytic Perspective on Creativity, Modern Art and Modern Artists

ISBN 9780415467063
Published July 21, 2010 by Routledge
192 Pages

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Book Description

For the past century psychoanalysts have attempted to understand the psychology of art, artists and aesthetic experience. This book examines how contemporary psychoanalytic theory provides insight into understanding the psychological sources of creativity, Modern Art and modern artists.

The Artist’s Mind revisits the lives of eight modern artists including Henri Matisse, Marcel Duchamp, Jackson Pollock and Andy Warhol, from a psychoanalytical viewpoint. It looks at how opportunities for a new approach to art at the turn of the twentieth century offered artists a chance to explore different forms of creativity and artistic ambition. Key areas of discussion include:

  • developmental sources of the aesthetic sense
  • psychological functions of creativity and art
  • psychology of beauty, ugliness and the Sublime.
  • co-evolution of the modern self, modernism and art.
  • cultural context of creativity, artistic identify and aesthetic experience.

Through the examination of great artists’ lives and psychological dynamics, the author articulates a new psychoanalytic aesthetic model that has both clinical and historical significance. As such this book is essential reading for all those with an interest in the origins and fate of Modern Art.

Table of Contents

Introduction. A New Psychoanalytic Model of Aesthetic Experience. Art and the Artist’s Mind. Modern Art and Modern Artists. Edgar Degas: The Psychological Edge of Modernism. Pierre Bonnard: The Seduction of Beauty. The Creative Anxiety of Henri Matisse. The Beauty of Indifference: the Art of Marcel Duchamp. Modern Art in America. Joseph Cornell’s Quest for Beauty. Form Follows Function: The Selfobject Function of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Architecture. Jackson Pollock: An American’s Triumph and the Death of Modernism. The Birth of Postmodernism: Andy Warhol’s Perverse Aesthetics.

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George Hagman, LCSW is a psychoanalyst and clinical social worker practicing in both New York City and Connecticut. He is also a member of the faculty of the National Psychological Association for Psychoanalysis.


"Hagman invites the reader to join him on a fascinating and audacious psychoanalytic tour of the minds of significant artists of the 19th and 20th Centuries. Tracing their personal histories he demonstrates how psychological factors contribute to the ‘aesthetic resonance’ in works of art and architecture. An innovative contribution to the dual fields of art and psychoanalysis. The Artist’s Mind is an engaging read." - Joy Schaverien, Jungian Analyst and Visiting Professor in Art Psychotherapy at Leeds Metropolitan University, UK, and author of The Revealing Image

"In his second book Hagman pursues the development of a novel theory about aesthetics and creativity from self psychology and relational perspectives. He sees aesthetic experience as rooted in idealization of early attachment of the infant to his mother. In the present work he expands his ingenious formulations to Modern art which encourages personal idiosyncrasies, subjective expression, and aggressive abandonment of tradition. In this thoughtful and well researched text, he illustrates his theory by a detailed examination of a number of well known painters including, Degas, Bonnard, Duchamp, Pollock and Warhol. The list is extensive enough to enrich our understanding and appreciation of varied and at times opposing attitudes towards the process of artistic creation." - Francis Baudry, New York Psychoanalytic Institute, USA

"The author's psychoanalytic readings of the eight artists are compelling like princesses in a fairy tale, each of whom is 'more beautiful than the last.'" - Ellen Dissanayake, author of Art and Intimacy and Homo Aestheticus

"The Artist's Mind offers a vitalizing, new analytic perspective on the importance of aesthetics and art as a 'dialogue with the world,' shedding light on the evolution of modern art through the lives and works of major 20th century artists, and expanding our understanding of art into the 21st century." - Carol M. Press, author of The Dancing Self