Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Psychoanalysis and Art

LEVEL 03 - Years 2, 3, 4 in Modular Undergraduate Course



DESCRIPTION Psychoanalysis has made a great impact upon artists in the twentieth century to contemporary times and also on the work of art critics and historians. In this study-unit we will examine some of the developments and points of convergence between psychoanalysis and art. First we will have to become familiar with the terminology of Freud’s and Jung’s psychoanalytic theory and the adaptation to art criticism. The reading and interpretation of symbols is an essential aspect in the arts, therefore we will explore how symbolism has played a prominent role in psychoanalysis through the formation of dreams, myth, folklore and religion. A selection of case studies of artists from different art history periods will provide the basis for discussion to help us understand the dynamics of a psychobiographical approach to the interpretation of image making. We will also deal with other different methods of reading art from a psychoanalytical perspective like Winnicott’s transitional object in relation to creativity and symbolisation; the gaze as formulated by Lacan and the psychological impact of images. Finally we will focus on the way artists show that the unconscious is a source of their creativity and the levels of meaning in their art product.

Study-unit Aims:

Aims and Objectives:
• Develop students’ understanding of the relationship between psychoanalysis and art;
• Develop an understanding of the theoretical and conceptual issues of psychoanalysis and art;
• Develop students’ aptitude for study and research in psychoanalysis and art history, including effective oral and written skills;
• Encourage active participation in class discussions and critical evaluation of material;
• Encourage students’ participation in different forms of assessment.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding:
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

• understand the relationship between psychoanalysis and art;
• understand how Freud's and Jung's psychoanalytical theories were adapted to analyse works of art;
• understand the importance of symbolism in psychoanalysis;
• understand how artists show that the unconscious is a source of their creativity.

2. Skills:
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

• look critically at the range of psychoanalytic approaches to the artist and the viewer;
• apply a psychoanalytic perspectives to analyse works of art.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

Schneider Adams, Laurie, Art and Psychoanalysis, 1994.
Freud, Sigmund, (1914b), The Moses of Michelangelo. SE, 13: 209-238.
Freud, Sigmund, Leonardo da Vinci and a Memory of his Childhood (1910c).
Jung, C.G., Man and His Symbols, 1964.
Jung, C.G., The Spirit in Man Art and Literature, Picasso, IV: 109-115.


Assessment Component/s Resit Availability Weighting
Assignment Yes 100%

LECTURER/S Louis Lagana

The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the description above applies to study-units available during the academic year 2020/1. It may be subject to change in subsequent years.