The Muse: Psychoanalytic Explorations of Creative Inspiration, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

The Muse

Psychoanalytic Explorations of Creative Inspiration, 1st Edition

Edited by Adele Tutter


262 pages

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Paperback: 9781138795402
pub: 2016-08-15
Hardback: 9781138795396
pub: 2016-08-16
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pub: 2016-08-12
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Psychoanalysts have long been fascinated with creative artists, but have paid far less attention to the men and women who motivate, stimulate, and captivate them. The Muse counters this trend with nine original contributions from distinguished psychoanalysts, art historians, and literary scholars—one for each of the nine muses of classical mythology—that explore the muses of disparate artists, from Nicholas Poussin to Alison Bechdel.

The Muse breaks new ground, pushing the traditional conceptualization of muses by considering the roles of spouse, friend, rival, patron, therapist—even a late psychoanalytic theorist—in facilitating creativity. Moreover, they do so not only by providing inspiration, but also by offering the artist needed material and emotional support; tolerating competitive aggression; promoting reflection and insight; and eliciting awe, anxiety and gratitude.

Integrating art history and literary criticism with a wide spectrum of contemporary psychoanalytic perspectives, The Muse is essential reading for psychoanalysts and psychotherapists interested in the relationships that enhance and support creative work. Fully interdisciplinary, it is also accessible to readers in the fields of art, art history, literature, memoir, and film. The Muse sheds new light on that most mysterious dyad, the artist and muse—and thus on the creative process itself.


"Recent art history writing and literary criticism has made strikingly little use of psychoanalytic thought. The impressively original, continuously absorbing nine essays collected in this volume will change that situation. Building upon the scholarly traditions of their disciplines, yet accessible to the general public, this collection demonstrates the considerable contribution that erudite contemporary psychoanalysts and psychoanalytically informed academics can offer to the understanding of the relationships that nourish creativity—and thereby to the understanding of creativity itself."-David Carrier, author of Principles of Art History Writing; A World Art History and Its Objects; Poussin's Paintings: A Study in Art-Historical Methodology.

"What is a muse? Adele Tutter’s captivating volume expands the concept of the artist-muse relationship through psychoanalytic exploration. Interpretive essays by psychoanalysts, art historians, and literary scholars on the biographies of well-known artists and writers, from Nicolas Poussin to Alison Bechdel, demonstrate the way in which the phenomena of identity and creativity spring from the same waters. Nine authors bring their own deep artistic, cultural, historical, and social erudition to the penetrating psychoanalytic exploration of creative lives. These highly original and provocative essays about artists, collectors, models, and muses stimulate the imagination. This is a truly compelling work."-Mary Bergstein, Professor of History of Art and Visual Culture, Rhode Island School of Design.

“Tutter presents us with an expanded notion of the muse function that goes beyond that of offering artistic inspiration. She shows us that a muse may serve as a provider of physical and emotional security, a base from which to dream and create, and a source of wisdom, insight, and reflective capacity.” - Dr. Pamela McCrory, Psychologist, UCLA, Dr. Tobi Zausner, Psychotherapist, NYC, NY

Table of Contents

Editor’s Preface Adele Tutter; Introduction: Mnemosyne, mother of the Muses Adele Tutter 1 "A memory on your palette":Poussin’s eternal feminine Adele Tutter 2 Hortense Fiquet Cézanne, as painted by her husband, Paul Susan Sidlauskas 3 Van Gogh’s Arlesian muses Bradley Collins 4Spilling it out: Dalí’s signature Claire Nouvet 5"Herb and Dorothy" Vogel: The collector as museJ. David Miller 6 Rebecca in the house: Musings on identification Nancy Olsen 7The muse as rescuer and inspiration: Saul Bellow’s Ravelstein Joseph D. Lichtenberg 1978 8 An improbable muse: Anne Sexton and Martin Orne Dawn Skorczewski 9 Alison Bechdel’s mystic muse: A psychoanalytic allegory Vera J. Camden.

About the Editor

Adele Tutter, M.D., Ph.D., is Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Columbia University, and Faculty at the Columbia University Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research and the New York Psychoanalytic Institute. She is author of Dream House: An Intimate Portrait of the Philip Johnson Glass House, and co-editor, with Léon Wurmser, of the Routledge title Grief and its Transcendence: Memory, Identity, Creativity (2015). She practices psychoanalysis in Manhattan.

About the Series

Psychoanalytic Inquiry Book Series

Like its counterpart, Psychoanalytic Inquiry: A Topical Journal for Mental Health Professionals, the Psychoanalytic Inquiry Book Series presents a diversity of subjects within a diversity of approaches to those subjects. Under the editorship of Joseph Lichtenberg, in collaboration with Melvin Bornstein and the editorial board of Psychoanalytic Inquiry, the volumes in this series strike a balance between research, theory, and clinical application. We are honored to have published the works of various innovators in psychoanalysis, such as Lachmann, Fosshage, Stolorow, Orange, Sander, Wurmser, Grotstein, Jones, Brothers, Busch, and Lichtenberg, among others. 

The series includes books and monographs on mainline psychoanalytic topics, such as sexuality, narcissism, trauma, homosexuality, jealousy, envy, and varied aspects of analytic process and technique.  In our efforts to broaden the field of analytic interest, the series has incorporated and embraced innovative discoveries in infant research, self psychology, intersubjectivity, motivational systems, affects as process, responses to cancer, borderline states, contextualism, postmodernism, attachment research and theory, medication, and mentalization. As further investigations in psychoanalysis come to fruition, we seek to present them in readable, easily comprehensible writing.

After 25 years, the core vision of this series remains the investigation, analysis and discussion of developments on the cutting edge of the psychoanalytic field, inspired by a boundless spirit of inquiry.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
ART / Criticism & Theory
PSYCHOLOGY / Movements / Psychoanalysis
PSYCHOLOGY / Psychotherapy / General