Classthree Summer - PDF version

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Another try at posting class #3

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Classthree Summer - PDF version

  1. 1. Mental illness, developmental disability, and their relationship to the creation of art. Examples of what we’re talking about: Mental illness: schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, OCD, clinical depression (ie, depression as a disorder) Developmental disability: autism, Down syndrome, retardation
  2. 2. What we’re not talking about. (For this week.) • There are many, many artists who have had their talent attributed to mental illness. For this week, we’re only speaking of artists who have been conclusively proven to suffer from an illness, not those that we can just speculate about.
  3. 3. There are two distinct categories of artists we’ll be talking about this week. • Trained, “insider” artists who also happened to have a disability or illness • Untrained, “outsider” artists, who have/had a disability or illness. This becomes a very tricky point. Trained artists have inherited a whole history of art and a vocabulary of creating that may or may not clash with their own instincts as informed by their illness or disorder. Untrained artists, while technically unschooled in art (perhaps in anything) have more than likely had input from well-meaning doctors and social workers who have encouraged their work in one way or another. Nobody creates anything in a vacuum.
  4. 4. A brief history of the treatment of mental disorders Treatment of mental disorders, late 1700s, early 1800s. • Primarily left to the family and church to care for them • People who had disorders were seen any of the following: Evil A burden An object of dread or fear Possessed Diseased Sub-human An eternal child A holy innocent While treatment of persons with these disorders has certainly improved, the above list still informs contemporary opinion and treatment.
  5. 5. Rise of institutions and asylums. • In the mid to late 1800s, Western Europe and the US started to move to a system of institutions and asylums for housing people with mental illnesses and disorders. Children who showed symptoms were generally separated from their families (with their family’s consent and approval) and sent to live in structured school environments, often alongside children suffering from physical illnesses and disabilities (ie, blindness, etc). • Many of these institutions were rather progressive, kind, and humane - at this point.
  6. 6. The Athens Mental Health Center, aka, the Athens Lunatic Asylum
  7. 7. Hans Prinzhorn • Psychiatrist and art historian, 1886-1933 We can see his interest in the institutionalized as an example of humane and respectful treatment.
  8. 8. Example from Prinzhorn collection. • Paul Goesch: Horus Dismembered, nd
  9. 9. The Prinzhorn Collection of the Psychiatric University Hospital in Heidelberg • Gathered between 1919-1922, this collection has ~ 5,000 pieces of art in it.
  10. 10. Adolf Wolfli • “Discovered” by Dr. Walter Morgenthaler at the Waldau Hospital, who went on to publish a volume of his work.
  11. 11. Adolf Wolfli: The Crucifixion of Jesus Christ, 1917 From quot;Books with Songs and Dancesquot;
  12. 12. “primitive” art
  13. 13. Pablo Picasso The Three Musicians, 1921
  14. 14. Art Brut - Jean Dubuffet • A search for “authentic art” - both primitive (inc. children’s drawings) and psychotic.
  15. 15. Eugenics movement (which also coincided with largest immigration to the US at that time)
  16. 16. Degenerate art show • 1937, Nazi Germany: cast modern art as the result of “degenerate” minds. At the time, artists were very interested in the work of those with mental illness, but this show cast a chilling effect on that.
  17. 17. Shift in treatment of institutionalized people. (1930s - 1940s) • What was once seen as a long-term but temporary sentence now became permanent, with those with more severe forms of disabilities essentially being locked up and abandoned. • The Depression and the World Wars complicated matters, draining money and resources away from the care of the ill and towards other causes.
  18. 18. It wasn’t until the 1960s and 1970s that major changes were made to help those in institutions. Pharmaceuticals were phased in as inhumane treatments such as lobotomy and ECT were phased out.
  19. 19. Today, art programs to work with patients in both in-patient and out-patient treatment centers are quite common. For instance, Creative Growth in Oakland, CA, which runs a gallery for participants to show their work in. The field of “outsider art” has grown to the point where galleries aggressively comb such programs looking for new talent.
  20. 20. • Martin Ramirez: Untitled, nd (1950s)
  21. 21. Martin Ramirez • Super Chief, 1954
  22. 22. Judith Scott • Blue Bird Pod, nd
  23. 23. Judith Scott • Untitled, 1991-3
  24. 24. Judith Scott
  25. 25. What are some of the reoccurring images we see in the work of untrained, mentally ill/disabled artists?
  26. 26. Obsessiveness • Hiroyuki Doi: untitled drawing
  27. 27. The “horror vacui” - the “need to fill the page” • Eugene Andolsek: untitled, 1950-2003
  28. 28. • Eugene Andolsek: untitled, 1950-2003
  29. 29. • Wesley Willis: Downtown Cityscapes, 1984
  30. 30. Distortion • Lee Godle: A Head, nd
  31. 31. Conduit between God and the earth. • PM Wentworth: Imagination Mars, c. 1940
  32. 32. Conduit between God and the earth. • PM Wentworth: White Wall of Jerusalem, nd
  33. 33. Communication of a message, often via an invented language. • Dwight Mackintosh: Untitled, nd.
  34. 34. • Dwight Mackintosh, Untitled, nd.
  35. 35. • Sam Gant: Untitled, nd
  36. 36. Insistent, almost nonsensical use of text. • Wesley Willis: The Dust Brothers
  37. 37. These are of course traits that trained, not-ill artists often seek to add to their work. Picasso: Weeping Woman, 1937 Joseph Beuys: How to Explain Pictures to a Dead Hare Distortion Conduit between heaven and earth
  38. 38. In fact, much of modern and contemporary art appears to bear the marks of artists who are mimicking the insane. Compare this… Photograph of a bed of a man who was brought to be institutionalized
  39. 39. …to this. Robert Rauschenberg: Bed, 1955
  40. 40. Or this… • Liza Lou: The Kitchen, 1991-5
  41. 41. …to this. • Adolf Wolfli: Musical Score, 1915
  42. 42. Regardless of its implications, there remains the notion of the “artistic temperament” • Being moody, depressed, withdrawn or high-strung are all traits we associate with an “artistic disposition.” • It bears noting that no more than 2% of the population of committed people ever create what can be considered art, even by a very open definition. • How does knowing that an artist suffered from mental illness affect your interpretation of their work?
  43. 43. * Trained artists Depression, of course, ended the lives of a number of well-known artists. • Diane Arbus: Identical Twins, 1967
  44. 44. * Trained artists Mark Rothko • Mark Rothko: Red, brown, white, 1957 • Knowing what how an artist died - specifically if he took his own life - can often add a layer of interpretation to their life’s work that may or may not be appropriate.
  45. 45. This is a painting painted by Van Gogh in 1890.
  46. 46. This is the last painting Van Gogh created before he killed himself.
  47. 47. Francesca Woodman • On Being an Angel, 1977
  48. 48. Francesca Woodman
  49. 49. Ironically, during the time when institutionalization was at its worst, psychotherapy would become faddish for the general public, all while treatment of those institutionalized got worse and worse.
  50. 50. Especially among artists, writers, and the “intellectual class,” it was quite common to at least experiment with psychotherapy and remains so today. Lynn Hershman Leeson: Roberta in therapy, 1978
  51. 51. For some artists, mental illness is simply something to live with. Afflictions such as bi-polar disorder and OCD are fairly common. • Dale Chihuly
  52. 52. The same can be said of some artists with physical disabilities. • Chuck Close
  53. 53. The experience of having had or currently suffering from an illness can add extra information for the viewer. • Vanessa Beecroft: Piano Americano Beige, 1996
  54. 54. John Brewster, Jr. (untitled), 1805
  55. 55. For others, the experience of being mentally ill completely pervades the interpretation of their work. • Yayoi Kusama: Self-Obliteration by Dots, 1968
  56. 56. • Yayoi Kusama: Mirror Room, 1991
  57. 57. • Yayoi Kusama: Accumulation of Stamps, 1963
  58. 58. John Grigely: Nine Green Conversations, 2001
  59. 59. For some, a career becomes split into “before” and “after.” • Willem de Kooning: Woman, 1949-50
  60. 60. “Late” De Kooning • Willem De Kooning: Untitled, 1987
  61. 61. “Late” De Kooning • Willem De Kooning: Untitled, 1985

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