Original Study

| Published: September 11, 2021

Modern and Postmodern Expressions of the Self: Freudian Psychoanalysis of Art

Shankar Tripathi

Graduate student of Art History and Art Appreciation at Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi, India Google Scholar More about the auther


DOI: 10.25215/0903.127


Sigmund Freud’s method of psychoanalysis has not only been fundamental for the discipline of psychology, but also for analysing works of art. Freud, beginning with his oft-cited psychobiography of Leonardo da Vinci, introduced the concept of studying an artist and its praxis from a psychic space; a concept that was revolutionary for its society that up until then experienced artworks through a romantic lens. The creation of a work of art was no longer simply the product of an intuitive ‘genius,’ but also the culmination of psychological factors like suppressed wishes and instinctual desires, familial relationships, childhood experiences, and dream sequences and fantasies, among others. Not only has such psychoanalysis inspired the Surrealist art movement, but also helped scholars in studying works of art, and their artists. In this paper, using Freudian principles, I psychoanalyse eight works of art produced in and beyond the ambit of Surrealism. With such an exercise, my aim here is to examine the creation of the self-portrait (and by extension, the image of an artist’s self) as a site of multiplicities. It is a site that is the product of an unconscious that is being constantly shaped, right from the artist’s childhood. For every artist, I have provided a small vignette that explains their oeuvre, its influences and aims, and how we can study the subtextual elements of their influential unconscious. With my examination, we can witness the projection of the self in a postmodern world where such sites are by their very nature, deconstructed, transient, and multiple.

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ISSN 2348-5396

ISSN 2349-3429


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Published in   Volume 09, Issue 3, July- September, 2021