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Artistry of the Mentally Ill: A Contribution to the by Hans Prinzhorn

By Hans Prinzhorn

Greater than 70 years after its first booklet in German, Artistry of the Mentally sick via Hans Prinzhorn is still a vintage about the borderland among psychiatry and paintings, disorder and self-expression. The drawings, work and sculptures amassed and analyzed through Prinzhorn are the goods of artistically untrained and unpracticed individuals – inmates of asylums. This ebook represents one of many first makes an attempt to investigate the inventive paintings of the mentally in poor health. thoroughly spontaneous they're in sharp distinction to newer collections that are the goods of occupational treatment or psychotherapy. prior to Prinzhorn, works by means of the mentally ailing have been thought of curiosities, by no means the topic of medical or creative research. besides the fact that, to Prinzhorn they have been "the eruptions of an common human artistic urge” counteracting the autistic developments towards isolation. Prinzhorn demonstrates impressive parallels among his assortment and people by means of teenagers, and among historic Greek cultures and primitive ones.

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Many of the farnaus Stone Age animal pictures on the walls of Spanish caves are clearly inspired by the bulges of the rock which, after some scratching and some touches of paint, became the earliest, extremely lively, pictures from the hand of man. Among the gravestones known as Menhirs from the more recent Stone Age we can also frequently find examples in which the naturally given forms were simply interpretatively expanded into human effigies. The question of the symbolic significance of these pictures is not directly relevant to their configurative components.

For this reason we also treated here the interpretation of undefined forms even though discussing all of them together could be attacked on methodological grounds. Everyone knows a few simple examples of shapes produced in playful activity directcJ toward visible configuration, such as bored doodling during lecturcs, meetings, and in all states of exhaustion and reduced activity and attention. But doodles are by no means limited to the state of relaxation; they are also incluced by tension looking for relief.

Aside from symbolic significance, of course, there can also be simple references to external events or internal experiences. We are all familiar with the banderoles which, especially in medieval art, seem to issue out of the mouths of the persons represented and which arrange themselves as flowing curves into the linear pattern of the pictures, having as their major purpose the direct transmission to the viewer of thoughts or exclamations. They are therefore bearers of rational content and increase the significance of a scene beyond the impression which the drawing alone is able to give.

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