HAUNTEd issue 10
NORTHWESTERN / ART / REVIEW
NORTHWESTERN / ART / REVIEW
NANCY DASILVA president
HANNAH LEE editor-in-chief (journal)
CLAIRE DILLON editor-in-chief (web) email@example.com
MOLLY CRUZ design team leader CRISTINA DOI JOE SEMKIU MARCY CAPRON web server AILEEN MCGRAW
ELISE CHAGAS events chair KATHRYN WATTS LINDSAY CHARLES NICK GIANCOLA AILEEN MCGRAW
KAYLA REUBEN director of communications/public relations firstname.lastname@example.org
director of finance
SENIOR EDITORS SINEAD LOPEZ senior journal editor
EDITORIAL STAFF/BLOGGERS KYLIE RICHARDS MEGAN OLSEN SAMMY ROSENTHAL NICK GIANCOLA LINDSAY CHARLES ALEXANDER BEER LUCY WANG CATHALEEN CHEN
KATE WOLLMAN senior journal editor
CAMILLE REYES senior manager CHRISTIE WOOD senior manager
ART HISTORY DEPARTMENT ADVISOR PROFESSOR CHRISTINA KIAER
ART THEORY & PRACTICE DEPARTMENT ADVISOR PROFESSOR LANE RELYEA
NAR is a non-commercial journal published by students at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. Images are copyright their respective owners through Creative Commons, contributed by authors, and from ARTstor.org and used within their Terms and Conditions. Written material is © 2013, all rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is prohibited.
is a student-produced journal based at Northwestern University dedicated to publishing undergraduate papers on art history and contemporary art trends. If you are interested in submitting a research paper or art review for publication in the journal, please contact our editor-in-chief at email@example.com. If you are an undergraduate at any institute of higher education and interested in contributing in other ways, please contact the president at firstname.lastname@example.org.
from the editor
HAUNTED The study of art history is an investigation of the past, as informed by the present. Through art history we are able to grapple with the incessant and inevitable passage of time, where we take care to notice and raise awareness to concepts and ideas apparent in various periods and artistic styles. With the passage of time, there are moments of collision, where certain periods, places, and spaces intersect. In our tenth issue of the Northwestern Art Review, the three selected essays share the theme, “Haunted”—the sense of a past affecting the present. We see how the present conception of medieval times has been pervaded with notions of backwardness and anti-scientificity, though with science-fiction comic strips, like Zarnak, this conception is challenged. Also discussed is the impact of childhood trauma in the art of Vincent van Gogh and Edvard Munch, where the artists are haunted so much by their pasts that the interpretation their work cannot be extricated from their personal lives. The final essay explores Eugène Delacroix through his oeuvre’s balance of the eternal and ephemeral. Delacroix, described by Baudelaire as
by Baudelaire as “the painter of modern life,” reveals the ravages of the past on modernity in Paris through his portrait of Paganini. On behalf of NAR, I would like to express our appreciation for the support of the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and the Office of the Provost. I would also like to extend deep gratitude to the Northwestern University Department of Art History, particularly Christina Kiaer, NAR’s department advisor and Jesús Escobar, Chair of the Department, as well as the Art Theory and Practice Department, especially Lane Relyea, the Chair of the Department. I would also like to thank the staff at the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University for their enthusiastic support of and collaboration with NAR. I am also infinitely grateful to Marni Barta, the former Editor in Chief of the journal, for her guidance during this transition, even from miles away. Additionally, in my first publication as Editor in Chief, I could not imagine a more dedicated leader than President Nancy DaSilva. Her positive energy and vitality leading NAR continues to be an inspiration to me. I have been fortunate to have an incredibly skilled and flexible design team—thank
you Molly Cruz, Cristina Doi, Joe Semkiu, and Aileen McGraw. My two pillars for this issue have been the Senior Journal Editors, Sinead Lopez and Kate Wollman. You have been an incredible source of support and insight and I am so grateful to have had both of your presences for my first publication. I would like to thank each of the members on the editorial team for their hard work as well: thank you, Kylie Richards, Megan Olsen, Sammy Rosenthal, Nick Giancola, Lindsay Charles, and Alexander Beer. Finally, I would like to recognize and thank not just our published contributors, but all the students across the nation who submitted papers for our spring journal. Our journal would not exist without the enthusiasm that our fellow undergraduates have shown in their willingness to engage in scholarly discourse, share ideas, and inspire research.
HANNAH LEE MAY 2013
table of contents PAGE 7
AND THE SPECTER OF THE MEDIEVAL BY LUKE A. FIDLER, PAGE 7
IN THE FORM OF CHRIST BY MICHELLE ITKONEN, PAGE 13
COMPOSING THE » ARTIST: DELACROIX’S PAGANINI
BY KATHLEEN MAXYMUK, PAGE 31
PAGE 31 NOTES, page 39
AND THE SPECTER OF THE MEDIEVAL by
LUKE A. FIDLER
northwestern university evanston, IL
“Here and there, in cold pockets Of remembrance, whispers out of time.” - John Ashbery
n the year 2936 CE, Zarnak fled an Earth flung “into the Dark Ages” (fig. 1). Readers tracked his journey in an eponymous comic strip published in the first eight issues of the sci-fi pulp Thrilling Wonder Stories from August 1936 to October 1937.
Fig. 1. Max Plaisted (pseudonym of Otto and Jack Binder), panel from “Zarnak,” Thrilling Wonder Stories (August 1936), 65.
Reprising popular images of the Middle Ages prevalent during the 1930s, strips such as Zarnak hinted at broader anxieties about the shape of time and the lure of the premodern.1 If Zarnak’s rocket pointed to the stars, medievalism was, time and time again, the dark underbelly that pulled him back. The story itself showcases Zarnak’s scientific ingenuity as he explores the exotic reaches of the solar system. He vanquishes metal-eating slugs on Mercury, meets a strange array of humanoids, and falls for a (predictably) nubile female lead. It was a promising story arc, abruptly cut short when the strip was discontinued. The hero was left stranded, choking in an underground laboratory on Mercury.
women and zombies for Spicy Mystery Stories (fig. 2).
Zarnak falls between the cracks of sci-fi relevance in the eyes of most scholars and critics, who While I don’t mean to belittle these scholars, I generally laud the complexity of late 19th- and am more interested in the way that the specter early 20th-century authors (think Jules Verne and of the Middle Ages looms large in this erotic H. G. Wells) then skip straight to the postwar locus of danger, sex, and exoticism. Zarnak’s sophisticates, such as Samuel R. Delany, Octavia post-apocalyptic world features a “vast horde E. Butler, and Philip K. Dick.2 Where they discuss of Asiatics, Mongols and Hindus,” plague, bows them, scholars tend to skewer the pulps of the and arrows, and feudalism as “the world lapsed thirties as juvenile examples of problematic back to the conditions of the 9th century.” The gender relations.3 Indeed, Zarnak is credited to strip pictures futuristic Earth as a potpourri of “Max Plaisted,” a pseudonym of the brothers Otto Romanesque architecture (all rounded arches and Jack Binder who simultaneously drew naked Fig. 2. Max Plaisted (pseudonym of Otto and Jack Binder), panel from Arthur Wallace, “Death Vault of Venus,” Spicy Mystery Stories 1.4 (August 1935), 101.
and squat basilica-like buildings), neo-Romantic castles, and trench warfare. In a panel from the first episode, the figure of a scientist burning at the stake (fig. 3) calls to mind the agonizing last moments of Maria Falconetti in The Passion of Joan of Arc (La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc, France, 1928) (fig. 4).
Heated arguments surrounded the scientific accuracy and value of the ideas proposed in pulps. The debates cut both ways; even as eminent scientists published meticulously researched stories under pseudonyms, newspapers condemned scientific innovations for their similarity to objects depicted in comics. For the readers and writers of Thrilling Wonder Stories, the agents of the Inquisition hovered uncomfortably close.
This image in particular (fig. 3), aligning the scientist with the prophet-martyr and contrasting feeble feudal minds with the hero’s scientific machismo, underscores the medievalism of Zarnak’s Earth. It jibes with representations of a threatening, anti-science “medieval world” foretold in contemporaneous books and films, such as H. G. Wells’ Things to Come and its brilliant film adaption (United Kingdom, 1936). Zarnak’s Inquisition imagery, reflecting popular misunderstandings of Spain as backwards and perpetually “medieval” (the so-called “Black Legend”), drove this home. Fig. 3. Max Plaisted (pseudonym of Otto and Jack Binder), panel from “Zarnak,” Thrilling Wonder Stories(August 1936), 67. Fig. 4. Still from The Passion of Joan of Arc (La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc), dir. Carl Theodore Dreyer, France, 1928.
I think the negative coding of a re-emergent Middle Ages in Zarnak signals something significant both about how time works in early sci-fi pulps, and about the afterlife of medievalism itself. Time was, clearly, of the essence. Consider the titles of other stories that appeared alongside Zarnak: “Lost in Time,” “Moon of Mad Atavism,” and “Mind Out of Time.” Over and over, whether through the real threat of devolution on the moons of Titan or the spilling over of the Carolingian age into the thirtieth century, the past haunted the future. It’s therefore fair to say that Zarnak goes some way to challenging Albert I. Berger’s oft-quoted formulation that the pulps of the period generally pursued a “deterministic, linear (as a sine-wave is linear), elitist, conflict-ridden, and—ultimately— apocalyptic” vision. The visions I have culled from the pages of Thrilling Wonder Stories have more in common with Michel Serres’s famous metaphor in which time is conceived as a crumpled handkerchief. Points on the handkerchief—the Middle Ages, inter-war America, and Zarnak’s distant future—rub up against each other. When Flash Gordon appropriated a “Wagnerian ambience” for its aliens (via Fritz Lang), medievalism mapped out the (speculative) future. Zarnak’s prescience might be measured in the anomic descriptions of post-War Germany (think W. G. Sebald), or, conversely, in medieval representations of violence. Medieval artists often showed Cain slaying Abel with a club or jaw-bone, perhaps figuring anxieties about the atavistic return 11
of a past pre-dating the invention of metal tools by Tubal-cain (fig. 5). The pulp strips of Thrilling Wonder Stories also augured the delirious sci-fi anachronisms of the comics distributed by Vertigo in the early 1990s (series such as The Sandman, Shade the Changing Man, Animal Man, and
Marvel 1602). Like Hob Gadling, the medieval man in The Sandman who simply refuses to die, the Middle Ages continue to worry at optimistic ideas of incessant futurity.
Fig. 5. Illustration depicting Cain slaying Abel with a jawbone. MS. Rawl. D. 939, Bodleian Library, University of Oxford. Late 14th century.
ART THERAPY IN THE FORM OF CHRIST
northwestern university evanston, IL
oth Vincent van Gogh and Edvard Munch, late 19th-century contemporary Northern European artists, suffered from mental illnesses and neuroses. Although their ex-
act medical diagnoses are not precisely known, the documented facts of their lives suggest they experienced traumatic upbringings involving hyper religious family environments. Within their prolific oeuvres, religious subject matter is a rare sight—revealing the anomalous and fascinating nature of van Gogh’s Pieta (Delacroix) 13
of 1889 and Munch’s Golgotha of 1900. While residing in different sanitariums, the artists produced these pieces into which they incorporated their self-portraits in the embodiment of Christ. Because each artist includes his self-portrait, an integration of the artist’s self into the content of his work, these paintings require an interpretation that relies on the inner psychical workings of the artist in order for the pieces to be understood. Since the paintings include the artists’ selfportraits and are rife with subject matter involving parental figures and religion, these works are likely highly reminiscent of emotionally riveting childhood memories for both artists. Relying on the artists’ journal entries and their paintings, it may be argued that the creation of the self-portraits infused with religious and parental symbolism serve as catharses for the artists. Because the “process of painting could trigger an emotional discharge of accumulated energy—a catharsis,” catharsis here is defined as the release of repressed material from the unconscious.1 This project compares Van Gogh’s Pieta (Delacroix) and Munch’s Golgotha, aiming to discover the nature of the mental catharses that the artists might have attained by also depicting exceptional subject matter in the production of their respective works. respective paintings as art therapy while providing a reason for the differences in the nature of their catharses. Because the subject matter pre-
sented in the paintings invokes a strong association with parental influences and memories from both Van Gogh’s and Munch’s respective upbringings, the paintings may serve as a means for the artists to release suppressed infantile sexual desires and to cope with guilt associated with childhood. For both artists, the catharses may be comprised of clinically defined psychological defense mechanisms as means of coping with the remorse that plagued the artists. By grasping the nature of catharses, the comparison between Pieta (Delacroix) and Golgotha may shed light on Van Gogh and Munch’s potential utilization of these pieces as art therapy for their mental torments. Throughout his adult life, Van Gogh had “traumatic memories of his father as a Protestant minister whose teachings of his church included that it was sinful for a father to take pride in his son, that seeking recognition was vain (which conflicted with the career of an artist), and that humility, modesty, and sacrifice were the paths to salvation.”2 In adulthood, he failed in his attempts to become a Minister, like his father, due to his social awkwardness.3 Vincent’s mother suffered from depression when Vincent was a child, producing
“...The paintings may serve as a means for the artists to release suppressed infantile sexual desires and to cope with guilt associated with childhood.”
Vincent’s feelings of “unworthiness and isolation” as well as subsequent guilt associated with her depression: “His painting of an infant being held at the end of outstretched arms shows the distance and isolation that he probably felt most of his life.”4 Due to a strong undercurrent of self-blame regarding his parents’ reception of him that stemmed from childhood, Van Gogh had a “harsh conscience.”5 His masochistic inclinations shed light on his reaction to his parents’ reception of him. Examples of van Gogh’s acts of self-mutilation include burning his hand in fire while proposing an ultimatum to a lover, sleeping outside on the ground in the winter when he thought he was not diligent enough, suicide attempts involving consumption of paint in the asylum, cutting off his ear after a fight with Gauguin, and alleged suicide.6 His rejection of his parents’ religious beliefs in adulthood likely exacerbated this guilt rooted in childhood. In his letter to Theo, he says “Father can’t feel for or sympathize with 15
me, and I can’t settle into Father’s and Mother’s system, it is too stifling and would suffocate me…I find Father and Mother’s sermons and ideas about God, people, morality and virtue a lot of stuff and nonsense.”7 Van Gogh tended to channel his sensitivity and compassion toward the dregs of society, such as his lover prostitutes and low class laborers. Gauguin attested to this quality in van Gogh, remarking in his journal that his friend had “the great tenderness and altruism of an evangelist.”8 Interestingly, van Gogh rarely conveyed such sentiments of devotion through traditional Christian subject matter in his art, preferring to “eschew… bibli-
cal subject matter and confine… himself to observable reality.”9 As he declared, “I study nature, so as not to do foolish things, to remain reasonable,” hinting at the interplay between his mental state and his production of art. 10 According to van Uitert, “That Vincent remained loyal to realism has…to do with his illness which caused him to feel that he was losing his grip on reality. He realized that abstractions could be dangerous for him. The incorporation of biblical themes [tended to] arouse…a feeling of regression rather than progress,” distinguishing the biblical subject matter in Pieta (Delacroix) as anomalous in his oeuvre.11 Similar familial undertones resonate in Munch’s history. His father “Dr. Munch suffered periodic fits of deep depression and violent temper…An extreme Christian fundamentalist, Dr. Munch saw the bouts of severe, life-threatening bronchitis and tuberculosis suffered by Edvard and the other children as God’s ‘punishing illnesses.” The “most painful event in Edvard Munch’s
ART THERAPY IN THE FORM OF CHRIST life was the premature death of his mother from tuberculosis when he was five years old.”12 Munch famously quoted, “‘I was born dying… Sickness, insanity and death were the dark angels standing guard at my cradle and they have followed me throughout my life…I always felt that I was treated in an unjust way, without a mother, sick, and with threatened punishments in Hell hanging over my head.’” With lopsided parental influences coupled with traumatic losses of both parents as an adult, Munch’s development and works teemed with tribulation. Further inner conflicts stemmed from his doubts about his father’s religion in adulthood, as recorded in his sketch journals as he described himself in third person: “there was much that was mysterious in the bible – which he had doubted at times –Terror gripped him…he would burn in sulphur for all eternity – in hell… He now had a pact with god…he could never again have fun as in the past…It was a thought that came from the devil – he folded his hands and prayed for forgiveness.” Like Van Gogh, Munch eventually openly renounced his father’s faith and morals as a young man. This likely exacerbated his childhood guilt that was felt in relation to his father as hinted by Munch’s quotation, “How he [Dr. Munch] suffered for my sake for my life…because I could not share his faith.” Disgust in the projected eyes of Munch’s father also stemmed from Munch’s involvement in sexual relationships with women in adulthood. Løten explains, “Almost immediately…he entered a period of debilitating depression and grief after being informed that his father had died suddenly. He was unable to paint and isolated himself in a room in Saint-Cloud, where he jotted down recollections of his father and of his affair with ‘Mrs. Heiberg,’” the name he gave Millie Thaulow, the wife of Munch’s cousin with whom Munch 16
had an affair. Upon his father’s death, the sinful guilt Munch felt in relation to his father was likely due to Munch’s sexual pursuits of unavailable and emotionally tormented women. Describing the culpability he felt in relation to his father associated with these sexual relations, Munch relates in third person, “He had committed fornication…he had thrown himself into something that caused him remorse – his Father – and the others at home.” According to Freud, both Van Gogh’s and Munch’s behaviors manifest abnormal childhood development because of the “failure to get past [the] trigger point of the Oedipal complex and into the symbolic order, [which] is considered to be a classic cause of lasting neurosis,” or sexual suppression. The final stage of the famous Oedipal complex of childhood sexuality entails the loosening of ties of “vulnerability, dependence, and intimacy to the mother, which is a product of the child’s independent development and is achieved once the child discovers that the mother desires more than the child.” The artists’ guilt ridden accounts may be largely ascribed to the arrested development of their Oedipal complexes in childhood, leading to harsh superegos and resulting in neurosis, fetishism, and masochistic tendencies. The superego is clinically defined as a type of conscience that punishes misbehavior with feelings of guilt, that which “develops due to the moral and ethical restraints” placed on the individual by parents and guardians. In normal development, the superego controls the sense of right and wrong and balances one’s instinctual sexual needs with the abil17
ity to conform to society, precluding a boy’s sexual desire for an incestuous relationship with his mother from manifesting itself. In Civilization and its Discontents, Freud mentions, “we cannot get away from the assumption that man’s sense of guilt springs from the Oedipus complex and was acquired at the killing of the father.” According to Freud, a young boy’s superego is the primary inner force that productively channels guilty feelings about the desire to kill his father (due to sexual competition for the mother) into the endeavor to relate to his father and break away from the sexual dependence on his mother. The Oedipal conflict is naturally and eventually resolved, however, through the boy’s identification with his father and loosened ties from the mother. Based on Vincent’s mother’s depression and coolness towards him as a child, it may be argued that Vincent psychologically assimilated his infantile desires for her as “wrong” and was infused with excessive self-condemnation. While reciprocated intimacy from the mother is required for healthy mother-son relationship development, Van Gogh’s mother’s unreciprocated intimacy for him may have produced his guilt, which engendered a harsher than normal superego that punished Van Gogh for his erotic infantile love for her and left his sexual desires unfulfilled into adulthood. Likewise, according to this theory, Munch’s history hints of incestuous sexual desires for his mother.
ART THERAPY IN THE FORM OF CHRIST His mother’s sudden death might have prohibited Munch from loosening the sexual ties to her in the last phase of the Oedipal Complex. Preventing his resolution of infantile sexual desires for her, her death may have also triggered extreme remorse and anxiety in him, producing a severe superego that scourged Munch in later life. Additionally, Van Gogh’s and Munch’s severe superegos may have further suppressed their sexual needs through shame of sexual desires in the eyes of their fathers, whom, according to Freud, young boys perceive as sexual competitors for their mothers until they resolve this threat through identification with their fathers. While Van Gogh already likely had an underdeveloped and subsequently harsh superego due to his mother’s rejection of him, he also was unable to identify with his father due to his father’s censure, causing him to become a society out-
cast due to his arrested Oedipal Complex and ensuing sexual repression. Similarly, Munch’s father may have heightened Munch’s sense of Oedipal guilt by imposing strong God-fearing culpability on him. Amplifying an abnormally severe superego due to the loss of his mother, Munch might have been further restrained from resolving his sexually driven desires due to the God-fearing consequences, preventing the identification with his father due to his excessive devotion to a faith he did not share. These events likely produced an extremely overwhelming aberrant sense of Oedipal guilt and further suppression of sexual desires for Van Gogh and Munch as potentially revealed in Pieta (Delacroix) and Golgotha. Additionally, Van Gogh’s and Munch’s severe superegos may have further suppressed their sexual needs through shame of sexual desires in the eyes of their fathers, whom, according
to Freud, young boys perceive as sexual competitors for their mothers until they resolve this threat through identification with their fathers. While Van Gogh already likely had an underdeveloped and subsequently harsh superego due to his mother’s rejection of him, he also was unable to identify with his father due to his father’s censure, causing him to become a society outcast due to his arrested Oedipal Complex and ensuing sexual repression. Similarly, Munch’s father may have heightened Munch’s sense of Oedipal guilt by imposing strong God-fearing culpability on him. Amplifying an abnormally severe superego due to the loss of his mother, Munch might have been further restrained from resolving his sexually driven desires due to the God-fearing consequences, preventing the identification with his father due to his excessive devotion to a faith he did not share. These events likely pro18
ART THERAPY IN THE FORM OF CHRIST
duced an extremely overwhelming aberrant sense of Oedipal guilt and further suppression of sexual desires for Van Gogh and Munch as potentially revealed in Pieta (Delacroix) and Golgotha. With the same severe superegos as adults, Van Gogh and Munch were unable to balance their sexual needs with normal interaction with women in society, typically lubricated by a well-developed superego. In Fetishism, Freud describes fetishism as a condition arising from premature arrested maturity of the Oedipal complex. He further mentions that the fetish in the adult (referred to as a polymorphous perversion) is a form of regression to the habits that define infantile sexuality, in which the “pervert” uses external and symbolic objects for pleasure. As his sexual childhood attachment to his mother resurfaced in adulthood, Munch’s fetishistic sexual needs might have drawn him to anguished relations with women reminiscent of his sexual memories of his mother associated with her death and his sub19
sequent guilt and pain, as possibly highlighted in Golgotha. Similarly, Van Gogh’s fetishes might have manifested themselves in his pursuits of tormented prostitutes. In adulthood, his mother’s withdrawal from him likely caused him to project his infantile sexual longing and desire for her onto fetishistic love objects—prostitutes—who were also withdrawn and unhappy and who probably reminded him of his depressed mother, uniting his first hand accounts with the subject matter in Pieta. With regards to paintings Pieta (Delacroix) and Golgotha, both artists declared experiencing a sense of consolation from painting, likely serving as the outcome of catharses. When he painted Golgotha at St. Remy asylum, van Gogh mentioned that “work… distracted him ‘infinitely better than anything else.” He even saw painting as “possibly that [which] would be the best remedy” for his illness.29 Van Gogh, Pieta, 1889
Describing his progress of copying Pieta from Delacroix’s version by memory, he said “Where I have to follow a rule, I feel at peace… it sometimes gives me consolation …It does me good and drives away…these abnormal ideas.’”30 Comparably, Munch recounted, “When I paint illness and misfortune it is on the contrary a healthy release. It is a healthy reaction that one can learn from and live by.” Furthermore, he stated that “You know my Pictures and know that I have experienced every feeling,” suggesting his experiencing the masochistic and self-sacrifice sentiments depicted in Golgotha. 32 Mørstad further expounds on Munch’s comments, asserting how in Golgotha, “Many of these caricatures…[and] the grotesque exaggeration of these caricatures is symptomatic of Munch’s attempt to master complex situations, and researchers often interpret these pictures as self-therapeutic.”33 For Van Gogh, not only does the guidance of conformity to this new copying rule in Pieta (Delacroix) provide consolation. In Pieta, Van Gogh was also able to temporarily embrace abstract religious subject matter (which he usually deemed as an artistic regression) that might have lead him to pleasure and consolation from his mental illness. Schneider points out that in the portrait, “Christ stands with the compassionate somewhat Dutchappearing mother…here there is a nude. To be sure, he tells us it was Delacroix’s idea, but it is the nude of Christ…The face is, it seems to me, Vincent’s face; he, too, like Jesus, was red-haired. The conscious theme which attracts him is the theme of compassion.”34 The mother-son interaction in the painting begs the Freudian psychoanalytical explanation. In order to define the nature of his catharsis, the Freudian theory implies a form of solace derived from a release of Oedipal guilt rooted in childhood in the painting. In his letters 20
ART THERAPY IN THE FORM OF CHRIST
Edvard Munch, Golgotha, 1900
to his siblings, Van Gogh compared the Virgin in Pieta to a literary character prostitute who eventually dies from illness. In multiple letters to his brother and sister “from St. Remy [Van Gogh] refers…to Germinie Lacerteux…Vincent now associates the unhappy heroine in the story with the figure of the lamenting Virgin Mary in Delacroix’s Pieta…He describes Delacroix’s Mater Dolorosa as having ‘the lost vague look of a person exhausted by anxiety and weeping and waking rather in the manner of Germinie Lacerteux.”35 Intriguingly, “in his letters to his brother Theo, Vincent referred to their mother as ‘Mater Dolorosa,’” denoting a connection between the sympathetic sentiments of the Dutch Mary in the painting, Germinie Lacerteux’s dejection, and the depression suffered by his own mother. Thus, it is possible that the Dutch appearing Mater Dolorosa in Pieta may represent for Van Gogh the real life adult love object that stemmed from
his unfulfilled infantile sexual desire for his own Dutch mother. This depicted love object might be an idealized form of his mother in childhood or his multiple prostitute lovers, who served as fetishes and emotional reservoirs for the compassion Van Gogh sought but did not adequately attain from his withdrawn and depressed mother. Thus, Van Gogh’s unconscious desire to reproduce and simultaneously alter his mother’s lack of devotion to him, a desire manifested through the transmutation of his childhood sexual suppression into a depiction of a hysterically affectionate mother rushing to coddle her sexually naked son in her arms, indicates the potential comfort he derived from sexual expression and the release of guilt from his superego while painting Pieta. When Munch painted Golgotha, he was involved in a tumultuous relationship with a woman, Tulla Larsen: “Then I
received a Letter in which she recounts that she is on the brink of Death – overtaken by Consumption –In hopeless Desperation– I…visit her sick as I was.” After meeting her abroad, Munch “suspected Deceit,” after which Tulla cunningly told Munch she was ill to garner his sympathy and attention. Indicating that “– I felt it as my Duty to allow myself to be tortured by her – until the Crisis was over –– I wished to help her overcome,” Munch highlights a comment he made years later, “I had sacrificed myself needlessly for a whore.”39 In his journal sketches, Munch recognized his endeavor to assuage and prevent the latent guilt associated with the possibility of losing Tulla to Tuberculosis. This intention to help Tulla may have stemmed from his traumatic memories of his past losses of his mother and sister to Consumption, potentially mirroring the subject matter in Golgotha. Maybe because Munch went to 22
great lengths to help Tulla, he artistically represents himself sexually in the nude in the painting sacrificed in the presence of his father—“The face in the crowd directly below Christ may be that of his father, Dr. Christian Munch.” As mentioned before, Munch experienced significant guilt from his father due to his socially unacceptable sexual pursuit of women who were emotionally unavailable and also tormented. In the painting, the upturned eyebrow captures his father’s uncertain physiognomy, perhaps symbolizing Munch’s father’s doubt in the positive actions associated with
the self-sacrifice that the ChristMunch figure represents on the Cross. Further suggesting Dr. Munch’s skepticism and indignation towards his son includes his pose with his back to the ChristMunch, suggesting a turning away from Munch and perhaps signifying Munch’s internalization of his father’s haunting consternation in his sinful pursuits of women and loss of faith. The father’s location in the forefront of the painting labels the father as the most prominent subject of the painting, reinforcing Munch’s aim to express his guilt associated with his father. With large blue eyes, fully contoured features, and realistic facial skin tones, the depiction of his father’s face is also the most well-developed in the painting in contrast to the copious distorted human faces and profiles in the rest of the painting, including the Christ-Munch figure. With two black hollow specks for eyes, a seemingly partially opened mouth, a non-existent nose, and sickly yellow skin hues, the Christ-Munch’s physiognomy in-
dicates a dehumanization of the Christ-Munch figure. By humanizing the facial characteristics of his father and dehumanizing the characteristics of the ChristMunch figure, Munch highlights the contrast of his father’s piety, who humanized and embodied sacred values in his life, with Munch’s inability to adequately represent the ideals of Christ through his actions in his life. His incapability might be ascribed to his ongoing doubt regarding the Christian faith of his father and the guilt associated with the ongoing tragic relationship with women and with Tulla. Thus, the painting might have allowed Munch to transmute the sexual guilt that plagued him as he pursued Tulla onto the canvas, a consoling expression of his fulfillment of unconscious Oedipal fetishes through the painful and tormenting relationship— fetishes molded by his infantile longing for his lost mother. Despite the overarching dark themes of masochism and selfinflicted violence that permeate the painting and the potential
subsequent expression of guilt that Munch might have sought here, the ongoing paradoxical nature of the painting lies in Munch’s identification with Christ as he reflects the Crucifixion’s themes of knowing and willing sacrifice. With regards to the painting’s spatial regression, the Christ-Munch figure stands above his father on the Cross, which indicates a potential transcendence over his father’s skepticism. Perhaps his good intentions to help Tulla and his professed self-sacrifice for her, imposed by his harsh superego, further explains “Munch’s choice of the traditional visual language of Christianity [which] suggests a certain level of faith in the promise of redemption, even in the face of the menacing crowd,” as he sought to redeem his actions and his guilt as projected in the eyes of his father by endeavoring to help Tulla overcome Tuberculosis 41. The painting conveys emotional dichotomies of guilt, sacrifice, and masochism, comprising the
ART THERAPY IN THE FORM OF CHRIST clinical defense mechanisms of coping with Oedipal guilt. Defense mechanisms are strategies used by the unconscious mind to cope with reality, to protect an individual from psychological pain or anxiety, and are the means to catharsis. Since “defense mechanisms are considered unconscious mental constructs,” it is possible to use “art-based assessments in order to identify defense mechanisms” in artistic works. Those likely used by the artists here can be clinically identified as a combination of both mature and neurotic forms of catharsis. Mature refers to defense mechanisms used by adults to optimize one’s happiness and fulfillment in life, relationships, and work. Neurotic defense mechanisms embody short-term solutions but often perpetuate long-term psychological problems. The primary differences between the two forms of catharses used in
their respective paintings by Van Gogh and Munch include the utilization of “neurotic” defense mechanisms. With the attribution of the work to Delacroix, Van Gogh’s painting suggests Denial. Denial is the defense mechanism that involves the refusal to accept external reality because it is too threatening. 47 In Pieta (Delacroix), Van Gogh’s Denial is evinced as he symbolically represents his pining for maternal erotic relations possibly without consciously grasping nor acknowledging his historical unrequited erotic infantile desires for his mother. Because Van Gogh had a heightened and severe superego, experts believe he was unconsciously forbidden from drawing himself in the nude and from expressing his sexual fantasies for human love until Pieta. 48 Here, his superego may have allowed him to draw the nude in the most socially acceptable nude form (Christ) but his heightened
Detail of Vincent van Gogh, Pieta (Delacroix), 1889 23
conscious continued to repress the hints of sexuality under the guise of a copy of Delacroix’s painting. “As soon as he copies, the painter renounces his own method of vision,” suggesting Van Gogh’s conscious revocation of his artistic autonomy through the attribution of the painting to Delacroix for the sake of concealing his use of the painting as a means of unconscious sexual expression. By ascribing the painting to Delacroix, Van Gogh no longer must claim responsibility for the sexual subject matter presented—himself in the nude form—likely appeasing his harsh superego. Thus, the attribution of the painting to Delacroix and the revocation of his artistic autonomy may have both appeased his harsh superego while still allowing him to sexually express himself. Furthermore, it is a common understanding that the copyist “lacks the pigments and mediums which went to produce the original.” Copying Delacroix may have endowed Van Gogh with the liberty to use pigments 25
different from Delacroix’s version of Pieta. While painting the sexually charged personal subject matter, the guise of the copy allowed him to highlight in red—the signature color most emblematic of his hair in his self portraits—Christ’s beard that Delacroix originally colored dark brown without consciously acknowledging the inclusion of his self-portrait in the nude form of Christ. In other words, by attributing the painting to Delacroix, Van Gogh may have attempted to satisfy his severe superego while still expressing his childhood sexual desires and purging himself of the childhood guilt associated with his mother’s renunciation of him. Just as he usually adhered to realism to stay sane, van Gogh did not consciously acknowledge the abstract depiction as an exploration of his repressed guilt stemming from his sexual desire for his mother, likely because such recognition is strongly disagreeable with his harsh superego. While the attribution to Delacroix allows Vincent to explore his sexual needs
without additional guilt from the superego, this offers Van Gogh only a halfhearted release of his suppressed sexual needs and thus leads to only temporary assuagement of his self-blame, denoting a neurotic form of coping with Oedipal guilt. Unlike Van Gogh, Munch accepts his threatening external reality and thus does not employ Denial, but instead perpetuates the employment of a different neurotic defense mechanism. Munch’s painting may indicate the employment of the Displacement defense mechanism. Displacement “allows an individual to deal with an emotional conflict or internal or external stressors by transferring a feeling about, or a response to, one object onto another less threatening substitute object.” 51 In his painting, the crowds may be described as anonymous, captured by the onlookers’ indifference to the sacred scene of Golgotha, with their backs blasphemously turned away from the Christ/ Munch figure and the gliding conglomeration of the ghoulish
Father Detail, Edvard Munch, Golgotha, 1900
faces and phantom, substanceless figures that seem to pass through the scene. With the Munch-Christ figure depicted alone and dehumanized, the painting fosters a significant sense of hostility from humankind with the derision depicted by some of the figures’ maniacal, mocking grins in the foreground of the painting. These characteristics unite to demonstrate a hyperbolic sense of estrangement from society—perhaps the alienation Munch felt for his guilt ridden socially unacceptable sinful relationships. Munch also employs extremely dark blue hues to the sky, creating a hyperbolically oppressive atmosphere. By using yellows to capture a sense of sickness in the faces in the crowd combined with ominous inhuman red-orange color for skin tones, the sense of foreboding is created in Golgotha. By heavily rejecting spatial regression of the conventional, one point perspective of background, he instead paints a flat background and harnesses a claustrophobic 26
and suffocating ambiance. With “clotted and congealed pools of dry paint that form the sky,” the lack of spatial and temporal regression fosters a solidly lingering moment in time—one that may represent his protracted feelings of guilt. Clearly, these characteristics blend to depict extremely negative temperaments. Using the neurotic defense mechanism, Munch may displace his sacrificial and masochistic perceptions of himself and project them onto the less threatening physical form of the canvas, but uses catastrophic symbolism to continue capturing guilty perceptions of himself as he depicts Christ-Munch undergoing crucifixion. Since he likely displaces his guilt-ridden sentiments into a form that hyperbolically mirrors his negative sentiments, he merely transforms the medium of his negativity and guilt from the inner psyche onto the canvas, which defines his means to catharsis as a neurotic Defense Mechanism. Thus, he is distinguished from Van Gogh, who in27
who instead chooses to unconsciously transmute his guilt into a positive interaction between Jesus and Mary. The parental interaction between Dr. Munch’s rejection of his son in Golgotha is the antithesis of the intimacy between mother and son depicted in Van Gogh’s Pieta. Golgotha‘s dark blue and bold colors highly contrast with the softer delicate blues in Pieta that define Mary’s billowing dress, as she rushes to coddle and mourn for Jesus and as her outstretched arms reflect her sorrowful temperament. The contrast between the two paintings is also captured through Van Gogh’s use of spatial regression into the background, promoting a sense of time and subsequent sense of progress. Contrasting with the oppressive stopped moment in time in Golgotha, the gloomy blue-yellow cloud to the left above Mary seems to retract with the invasion of the bright yellow hues that emerge from the horizon to the right, perhaps symbolizing a sunrise from the east. Signifying the withdrawal of the recent atrocities of the
Biblical Crucifixion, an advance towards the optimistic and benevolent exchange between Jesus and Mary is made. This may represent Van Gogh’s temporary conquest and release of his guilt through the consolation of painting. The potential explanation for the employment of different defense mechanisms might involve the varying degrees to which Van Gogh and Munch confronted and coped with traumatic experiences as well as to the different artistic movements in which the painters produced their artwork. Van Gogh had an extremely harsh superego and this might further explain his employment of Denial attributed to his guilt, as seen with his infrequent ability to paint himself in the nude without the guise of a copy. One explanation for Van Gogh’s not employing Displacement like Munch might be because he was already physically masochistic and self-mutilating since childhood and sought alternative defense mechanisms to cope with his guilt in his painting. Munch
was apparently not physically masochistic like Van Gogh. Instead, Munch might have used Displacement in this piece in order to reproduce masochistic, negative opinions of himself into an alternative physical form to cope with them and prevent them from manifesting themselves onto his physical self. Throughout his career, Munch developed an oeuvre that was consistently rife with sexual subject matter and nude figures. This might suggest Munch’s less inhibited approach and stronger embrace of threatening subject matter in his artwork in comparison to Van Gogh, or perhaps Munch’s conscious use of artwork as a form of psychic exploration. This approach was indeed consistent in the art movement of which he was a founding father: “Munch’s Psychical Naturalism attempted a synthesis. It turned inward for the truly real—the world of ‘vision, clairvoyance and dream’— yet it desired to record such inner facts immediately, nakedly,
and faithfully with a Naturalist’s precision.” Munch was a part of the “new generation [who] ‘cast themselves down into the world of mysteries.’ They cultivated ‘that aspect of their personality tied to their mystical unconscious, as if it were a sacred object.” Unlike van Gogh, the realist, Munch “painted as only one could “whose eyes have turned toward the interior and away from the world of appearances…the subject matter was the soul.” This goal is consistent with Munch’s other self-portraits in his life works, including Self Portrait in Hell, indicating a degree of deliberateness and sexual self-exposure, which is more in keeping with the Displacement defense mechanism. While Van Gogh “believed fiercely that strong truths had always been crucial to great art and that they could only derive from nature and reality” in his approach to his art and adherence to realism, his desire to explore the inner psyche in his art was likely not as strongly striven.57
ART THERAPY IN THE FORM OF CHRIST
The similarities between the paintings include the use of mature defense mechanisms to confront the guilt associated with infantile sexual desires for parental influences (namely Identification, and Altruism). Identification is defined as “the unconscious modeling of one’s self upon another person’s character and behavior, or taking on their personality characteristics, in order to solve some emotional difficulty and avoid anxiety.” By painting their portraits in Christ’s body, both artists identify with Christ himself. This identification may serve as an indirect psychical coping mechanism of attaining redemption, as Christ did, of their deeply rooted guilt. By identifying with the Christ figure, both van Gogh and Munch must embrace Christian symbolism, transforming their unconscious guilt from childhood into elements associ-
unconscious guilt from childhood into elements associated with the virtues of Christianity—perhaps an attempt at reconciliation with the guilt associated with their renunciation of their parents’ faith. Van Gogh’s primary concern in Pieta is to grasp the concept of compassion that he sought after since childhood through the socially acceptable fervent exchange between Mary and ChristVan Gogh. For Munch, his self-sacrifice and subsequent ideas of guilt may be conveyed in a manner that is socially embraced—through the symbolism of Christ’s self-sacrifice. Both artists might have also incorporated Identification with Christ because they perceived their artistic professions as modes of promoting and transcending the goals of the traditional practice of religion, providing a new form of consolation that reached out and served the current and future fellow generations of empiricism and naturalism. These goals embody the final shared defense mechanism of Altruism, in which the “needs [of the artists] are met by fulfilling the needs of others other than one’s own.”59 Van Gogh felt that “succeeding generations would derive from his art the same peace, exaltation, and assuagement of loneliness and despair that he experienced from nature and from the books and art…. Both the creation and delectation of art were for him a source of renewal, ‘a force of resurrection stronger than any act.’” He even described Christ in terms emblematic of an artist: “Christ had been the ultimate formulator of truth in symbolic form, a ‘matchless artist’whose 29
medium was the parable…[he] declared Christ reached ‘the very highest summit’ of art and thereby endowed it with ‘a pure creative power.’ Similarly, “The name Munch is a…pun on “monk” in Norwegian, and the artist painted himself as a monk in the watercolor “The Empty Cross” around 1900. By portraying himself as a monk, Munch declares that creating art is a sacred vocation.”62 Stating that “No longer shall interiors be painted with people reading and women knitting…there shall be living people who breathe and feel and suffer and love...people will understand what is sacred in them and will take off their hats as if in church,” Munch perceived his role as an artist in society as analogous to organized religion’s role of providing solace and meaning to life. Thus, each artist considered his profession, his vision, and his artwork as a magnanimous gift of consolation, not only for themselves, but also for society. In most of their works, these two artists employed alternative subject matter likely to fulfill this sacred vocation. In their paintings here, there exists an additional unique interplay between the use of traditional Christian symbolism and the unconscious exploration of their inner psyche, allowing both artists to authorize their artistic professions as a sacrifice, inspired by turbulence from childhood and mental illness. Reflecting their renunciation of the traditional role of the church and their turning to artwork for consolation, this sacrifice for art not only provides the artists with personal, unconscious relief from sexual and mental consolation
consolation, this sacrifice for art not only provides the artists with personal, unconscious relief from sexual and mental problems but also allows the artists to consciously transform their production of art into a form of conscious catharses and comfort for society at large.
ART THERAPY IN THE FORM OF CHRIST
COMPOSING THE ARTIST:
DELACROIX’S PAGANINI by
george washington university washington, D.C.
odernity is the transitory, the fugitive, the contingent, as half of the art, whose other half is the eternal and the immutable”.1* This quote from The Painter of Modern Life (1862) by Charles Baudelaire encapsulates the genius of the painter Eugène Delacroix. His art is both eternal and fleeting, of its own time and forever. The connection between the two nineteenthcentury artists, the poet and the painter,
“...The hand of Paganini could be seen as a symbol of Delacroix’s own artistic hand, which holds a brush instead of an instrument.” is not contrived, but rather is exemplified by Baudelaire’s intense admiration of Delacroix. In fact, what Baudelaire emphasized in the work of Delacroix was the painter’s duality of spirit between the classical and the Romantic sensibilities in both his art and personality. Furthermore, this inner turmoil led Delacroix to produce intricately composed Romantic paintings that reference his own époque and the immutable aspects of life. Paganini, Delacroix’s 1831 painting of the celebrated Italian violinist, captures this expansive duality. The painting is small, 17 5/8 inches by approximately 12 inches, but manages to convey both the atmosphere of France in the 1830s and the eternal, transcendent figure of the artist. Through an analysis of the painting’s technique and themes, one can see how the painting deals with temporal tension as well as the tension between techniques. In boldly confronting this modern duality between the eternal and the ephemeral, Delacroix creates a portrait that reflects the complexities of his subject, Paganini, and of creativity’s role in the modern world.
To begin, the immense changes taking place in Paris in the 1830s had a profound effect on everyone living in the city at the time. First, the July Revolution of 1830 was the latest in a series of revolutions and uprisings that had taken place in Paris over the past half-century. It was a tumultuous time in France. The social classes were in flux, and Paris itself was constantly undergoing changes of regime.2 Michael Marrinan posits that Delacroix was in support of the 1830 Revolution and of the ruler who followed, Louis Philippe.3 In this way, the painter was looking to the future, or what Baudelaire called “searching for modernity.”4 Baudelaire employs a metaphor of a kaleidoscope to describe the artist of the nineteenth century who must take in all that is around him and interpret it with his own style.5 In fact, Delacroix embodies this Baudelairean man-ofthe-world persona through his portrait of Paganini. Nina Athanassoglou-Kallmyer points out that Delacroix achieved this totality by painting his subject’s entire body, rather than simply painting a more typical bust portrayal.6 Furthermore, the violinist
seen in motion in the midst of a performance and is thus rooted in the moment. Delacroix seizes this moment and makes it modern by breaking with the traditional technique of the past. This painting does not have a classical subject, an idea from which Delacroix distanced himself.7 Even if Delacroix retained a level of respect for the past in his process of painting (for instance, in his color theories and color inspiration from Rubens), he still created his own Romantic style that is analogous to his time.8 In Delacroix’s painting specifically, the modern subject takes the form of the Italian violinist Niccolò Paganini. Through Paganini’s personality and many renowned performances, Delacroix engages with an ephemeral influence. In 1830s Paris, there were, in fact, many artistic productions that influenced Delacroix. In particular, Paganini’s Paris concerts were a direct inspiration for the painter. Indeed,
COMPOSING THE ARTIST: DELACROIX’S PAGANINI it is likely that Delacroix attended Paganini’s opening-night Paris performance in March of 1831.9 This fact is indicated by Delacroix’s penetrating and persuasive portrayal of Paganini in mid-performance. Paganini’s body seems fully concentrated on the task at hand, losing all control and sense of his invisible audience. His tall, extremely thin frame is thrown uneasily into motion, which echoes the musical vibrations reverberating from his violin.10 By seizing this momentary act, Delacroix displays what Baudelaire referred to as an “inexpressible originality” that brings the viewer closer to the subject and the depicted time period.11 In this depiction of an impulsive artist, Delacroix shows his own spontaneous qualities as a painter. His rapid, large brushstrokes attest to his passion and complete
Ferdinand-Victor-Eugène Delacroix, Paganini, 1831 33
composition, and the hinted violence in his sinister color palette, Delacroix conveyed a gesture of impatience and movement.12 In fact, Delacroix details in his journal: “How changeable I am,” emphasizing the ephemeral nature of his own personality.13 For instance, in the painting, the violinist’s hand is so furiously in motion that Delacroix paints it as an undetailed blob. Truly, the hand of Paganini could be seen as a symbol of Delacroix’s own artistic hand, which holds a brush instead of an instrument. Another aspect of his time that Delacroix depicts through the painting is the cholera epidemic and its ravaging effects on the population. The cholera epidemic strongly affected Paris in March of 1832, having already spread all over Europe.14 Athanassoglou explains that the disease reached beyond its physical impact (about 100,000 victims in France) to an impact on the Romantic aesthetic in France.15 34
Specifically, with Paganini, his time through his technical Delacroix responds to this im- artistry and his representation pact through his emphasis on of history itself. the body as an agent of change that ultimately expires. In effect, Paganini’s body is portrayed in a sickly way. His skin is sallow On the other hand, Paganini and wan, and he appears emaci- rises above his Romantic perated, with an uncomfortable im- sonality because of Delacroix’s balance between his waist and magical portrayal of Paganini’s The painting makes his legs.16 He suffers as he pro- music. duces art, a Romantic parallel.17 the viewer feel the rhythm and Paganini, as the suffering body, melody of sound, a remarkable is also significant in that the mu- feat. In fact, Romantic painters sician had a demonic reputation highly valued music as an art because of his fervor as an art- form much above literature beist. As Athanassoglou details, cause painting and music were Delacroix believed that the fig- both seen to be above thought, ure of Paganini was tied up with however Delacroix takes his adthe revolution’s turmoil and the miration of painting and music grotesque qualities of cholera.18 a step further with Paganini.20 The abrupt contrast of light and He completely bridges the two dark tonalities, with an empha- art forms in a harmonious play sis on darker tones, produces a between sight and sound. He sense of movement in the paint- chiefly achieves this balance ing. This effect brings the viewer with color and with line, which into this scene with Paganini on resound with the intensity of Paa stage that, with its background ganini’s music. Most important of ghoulish hues, seems to en- is the synaesthetic effect of the fold his figure in an “inferno.”19 palette from this master colorIn sum, Delacroix transmits a ist. Both Baudelaire and art hissense of the ephemeral nature of torian Elie Faure write about the
beauty and importance of color in Delacroix’s work. Baudelaire cites Delacroix’s “symphonies of color” and asserts that the painter achieved a melodious effect in his paintings through his unity of color.21 Specifically, in this painting, Delacroix reproduces the sound of music through the undulating color effects. The color is applied with thick large brushstrokes, and Paganini’s face is highlighted against a dark background with contrasting dark tonalities. In this way, the painting depicts Faure’s claim in “Le Romantisme et le matérialisme” (1965) that Delacroix’s color pulsates like music itself, which one feels when regarding Paganini.22 Furthermore, the lack of outline and the free form of the figure releases the subject from the confines of the painting’s time. Athanassoglou even makes the point that the body’s form begins to take on the shape of a musical chord and becomes one with the violin he holds.23 Therefore, Paganini is seen as the producer of the music, but also as part of the music, and the
viewer is swept up in this synaesthetic experience. It is this interpenetration of the arts that allows the painting to transcend all associations with its own time and reflect the figure of the artist. In representing Paganini as a totality, Delacroix shows him as forever in the process of creation. His long body contrasted with the dark background allows him to emerge as an infinite source of art. Athanassoglou points out that the depiction of Paganini’s face is almost saint-like in its radiation of an inner light with downturned-eyes.24 It is as though Paganini finds his peace in the turmoil surrounding him, but with this spirit, he continues to survive even as all around him inevitably decays into blackness and nothingness. The background thus can be seen as a calm spiritual setting for the free and independent artist. Delacroix paints the spirit of the artist by neither focusing on the detail of the figure nor the background; he rather focuses on their effect on the creator and
DECOMPOSING THE ARTIST: DELACROIX’S PAGANINI
(Opposite) Jean-August-Dominique Ingres, Niccolò Paganini, 1819 36
the viewer.25 As art historian Frank Trapp explains in The Attainment of Delacroix (1971), to Delacroix, painting is akin to playing the violin.26 Delacroix himself wrote that painters and musicians both rely on a similar pure emotion, even if music values the momentary over the lasting relic of the artistic creation.27 Nevertheless, with this painting Delacroix finds a way to render the effects of music in an eternal sense. It is for this reason that Faure believes Delacroix is a “musician of painting.”28 The eternal sense of melody Paganini imparts does not merely continue, but actually becomes stronger over time. Delacroix’s figure of Paganini is not reproduced, but rather, felt. Baudelaire explained this effect of Delacroix’s art as a sacrifice of the detail for a more profoundly felt impression on its viewer through distance, both literal and figurative.29 To clarify, when one views the painting from a distance in space, the lack of precision in outline, facial features, and background adds to the painting’s Romantic quality of passionate engagement. All of the colors and swirling diagonals come together to give a sense of the totality of life. The painting preserves a sense of eternality and affection because it captures a feeling rather than a specific moment in time. Michael Fried— albeit writing roughly a century after Baudelaire— shared his theory of the duration of Delacroix’s style and message over time. He explains that because Delacroix paints from memory rather than directly copying from nature, the work’s force in37
creases with time.30 Since the work is already transformed through Delacroix’s subjective feeling, it remains relevant because it has been relocated to an imaginative realm.31 Delacroix is thus not competing with time, but showing his mastery over it through an artistic act that depicts another time period. It is this quality that makes him worthy of Baudelaire’s epithet “Painter of modern life,” in that Delacroix creates from the “image in his head,” and not simply from his surroundings.32
In his attempt to reconcile the duality between the ephemeral and the eternal in Paganini, Delacroix produces a complex representation of his subject and of the role of art. With this painting, he was able to juxtapose the momentary performance of Paganini with the eternal creation of art. Delacroix achieved this feat through his technical style, which itself presents a duality of person. Delacroix had both Romantic and classical sides to his temperament and found inspiration in both classical and modern art.33 From these two sources of inspiration, he came to the forefront of the new style of Romanticism. As George Mras explains, “Delacroix created a style that was based on imagination, but one which was under control and subject to his various theories, especially pertaining to color.”34 This new style, however, never forgot its classical roots. It is that grounding that lends the innovation its power, which Mras posits is similar to the poetry of Baudelaire.35 In fact, the painter and the poet can be further linked through a synthesis between the arts. Baudelaire believed that Delacroix was a “poet,” who happened to be expressing himself through the act of painting.36 Delacroix thus is dealing with this very modern notion of the interpenetration of art forms. For this reason,
COMPOSING THE ARTIST: DELACROIX’S PAGANINI even though he was the French Romantic painter par excellence, he was also one of the first Modern painters.37 His painting of Paganini attests to this break with the old style, especially in comparison with other painters’ depiction of this figure. For example, Athanassoglou contrasts the classical artist Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres’s depiction of Paganini with that of Delacroix. She states that Ingres does not depict “the magical spontaneity” that Delacroix does.38 Ingres’s painting shows the violinist in a static position staring placidly at the viewer and holding his unused violin. In this portrayal, the violinist is divorced from his creative act. Thus, Ingres does not convey the impact of either the ephemeral or the eternal. On the other hand, Delacroix’s use of movement, color, and atmosphere all work together in his portrait of Paganini to bring the subject to life in Paganini’s time and for all time.39 The painting’s movement evokes the turmoil of the Revolution and the cholera epidemic, as well as the liberating feeling of an escape from time. The color suggests the dark cholera epidemic and Paganini’s demonic representation, but also an eternal meditation of the spirit of art. Finally, the atmosphere brings the viewer to the performance of the 1830s and allows them to continue to hear and see the act of creation almost 200 years later.
1» Zarnak And the Specter of the Medieval 1. I thank Jason D. LaFountain who brought Thrilling Wonder Stories to my attention and served as a generous interlocutor. For the premodern, see Bruce Holsinger, The Premodern Condition (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005). 2. Andrew Milner and Robert Savage, “Pulped Dreams: Utopia and American Pulp Science Fiction,” Science Fiction Studies 35.1 (March 2008): 32. 3. See Justine Larbalestier, The Battle of the Sexes in Science Fiction (Middleton: Wesleyan University Press, 2002). 4. For the Binder brothers, see Mike Ashley, The Time Machines: The Story of the Science-Fiction Pulp Magazines from the Beginning to 1950: The History of the Science-Fiction Magazine Volume 1 (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2000), 101; and Everett Franklin Bleiler, Science-Fiction: The Gernsback Years: A Complete Coverage of the Genre Magazines Amazing, Astounding, Wonder, and Others From 1926 Through 1936 (Kent: Kent State University Press, 1998), 521. 5. Max Plaisted (pseudonym of Jack and Otto Binder), “Zarnak: The Plunder Plague,” Thrilling Wonder Stories (August 1936): 65. 6. For an overview of the Middle Ages as a time of “obscurantism” and “oppression” in the pop culture of the United States, see Peter Williams, “The Varieties of American Medievalism,” Studies in Medievalism
1.2 (1982): 7-8. 7. See Charles Gibson, The Black Legend: Anti-Spanish Attitudes in the Old World and the New (New York: Knopf, 1971). 8. See Paul A. Carter, “Rockets to the Moon 1919-1944: A Dialogue Between Fiction and Reality,” American Studies 15.1 (Spring 1974): 31-46. 9. Albert I. Berger, “Theories of History and Social Order in Astounding Science Fiction, 1934-55,” Science Fiction Studies 15.1 (March 1988): 30. 10. Michel Serres in Bruno Latour and Michel Serres, Conversations on Science, Culture, and Time, trans. Roxanne Lapidus (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1990), 60. 11. Williams, “The Varieties of American Medievalism,” 14. 12. See W. G. Sebald, On the Natural History of Destruction, trans. Anthea Bell (New York: Modern Library, 2004). For suggestive medieval examples, see Conrad Rudolph, Violence and Daily Life: Reading, Art, and Polemics in the Cîteaux Moralia in Job (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1997), 42-62.http://www. britishmuseum.org/research/search_the_ collection_database/search_object_image.aspx. 13. Meyer Schapiro, “Cain’s Jaw-Bone that Did the First Murder,” Art Bulletin 24.3 (September 1942): 210. 14.See Neil Gaiman et al., “Men of Good Fortune,” in The Sandman Vol. 2: The Doll’s House (New York: DC Comics/Vertigo, 1995).
2» Art Therapy in the
Form of Christ
1. Erik Mørstad, “The Improvisations of Edvard Munch,” Kunst og Kultur, vol. 90, no. 3, 2007, <http://search.proquest.com/ docview/65947105?accountid=12861>. 2. Barry Panter and Lawrence Warick, Creativity & Madness: Psychological Studies of Art and Artists (Burbank, CA: Aimed Press, 1995).
11. Ibid., 86. 12. Reinhold Heller, “Munch, Edvard,” Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online. Oxford University Press, accessed November 20, 2012, http://www.oxfordartonline.com/subscriber/article/grove/art/ T060294.and Michel Serres, Conversations on Science, Culture, and Time, trans. Roxanne Lapidus (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1990), 60.
Online. International Society for Mental Health Online, accessed November 10, 2012, http://allpsych.com/psychology101/ ego.html.
22. “Oedipus Complex.”
31. Edvard Munch, “MM N 46, fol. 2r,” Munch Museum, sketchbook, http:// www.emunch.no:8080/cocoon/emunch/ TRANS_HYBRIDMM_N0046.xhtml#. UauysFK167g.
23. Max J. Friedlander, On Art and Connoisseurship (Boston: Beacon Press, 1942), http://archive.org/stream/onartandconnoiss009325mbp/onartandconnoiss009325mbp_djvu.txt, 131.
3. Ibid., 4.1982), xxii.
13. Lawrence Warick and Elaine Warick, “Edvard Munch: A Study of Loss, Grief and Creativity,” https://www.msu.edu/
4. Ibid., 2.
5. Ibid., 3
14. Heller, “Munch, Edvard.”
6. Ibid., 2-4.
15. Edvard Munch, “MM T 2771,” Munch Museum, sketchbook, http://www. emunch.no:8080/cocoon/emunch/ TRANS_HYBRIDMM_T2771.xhtml#.
25. Richard L. W. Clarke, “Sigmund Freud’s Fetishism,” Richard L. Clark: Lits3303 Modern Critical Theory (2012): 1, http://www.rlwclarke.net/courses/ LITS3303/2010-2011/05CFreud,Fetishism. pdf.
7. Vincent van Gogh, Letter to Theo van Gogh, 21 December 1881. Letter. From Web Exhibits, http://webexhibits.org/vangogh/letter/10/164.htm. 8. Naomi E. Maurer, Vincent van Gogh, Paul Gauguin, and Naomi E. Maurer. The Pursuit of Spiritual Wisdom: The Thought and Art of Vincent van Gogh and Paul Gauguin (Madison: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1999), 2. 9. Evert van Uitert, “Vincent van Gogh and Paul Gauguin in Competition: Vincent’s Original Contribution,” Simiolus: Netherlands Quarterly for the History of Art. vol. II, num. 2 (1980): 83, http://www. jstor.org/sta ble/3780585. 10. Nathalie Heinich, The Glory of van Gogh: An Anthropology of Admiration, trans. Paul Leduc Browne (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996), 52.
UauxUlK167g. 16. Edvard Munch, “MM T 2770, fol. 08r,” Munch Museum, sketchbook, http:// www.emunch.no:8080/cocoon/emunch/ TRANS_HYBRIDMM_T2770.xhtml 17. Edvard Munch, “MM N 505,” Munch Museum, sketchbook, http://www.emunch. no:8080/cocoon/emunch/TRANS_HYBRIDMM_N0505.xhtml#.UawNIlK167g. 18. Ibid. 19. “The Oedipus Complex. Description,” Changing Minds.org, accessed November 26, 2012, http://changingminds.org/disciplines/psychoanalysis/concepts/oedipus_ complex.htm. 20. “Oedipus Complex.” 21. “Personality Development,” All Psych
24. “Oedipus Complex.”
26. “Sigmund Freud’s Infantile Sexuality and The Role In the Genesis of the Neuroses of Adults and In The Psychology of Normal Adults,” accessed November 26, 2012, https://ccrma.stanford.edu/~pj97/ SigmundF.htm.
30. Ibid., 10-11.
32. Edvard Munch, “MM T 2759, fol. 58r,” Munch Museum, sketchbook, http:// www.emunch.no:8080/cocoon/emunch/ TRANS_HYBRIDMM_T2759.xhtml#. UauwpFK167i. 33. Friedlander, 148. 34. Daniel E. Schneider, “The Psychic Victory of Talent: A Psychoanalytic Evaluation of Van Gogh,” College Art Journal, vol. 9, no. 12 (1950): 329, http://www.jstor. org/stable/773751 (accessed November 12, 2012). 35. van Uitert, 95. 36. Panter, 2.
27. Joseph Weiss, “Bondage Fantasies and Beating Fantasies,” The Psychoanalytic Quarterly, vol. 67 (1998): 632, http://www.pepweb.org/document. php?id=paq.067.0626a.).
37. Janet Whitmore, “Review: Becoming
28. “798: To Theo van Gogh. Saint-Rémyd-Provence, on or about Monday, 2 September, 1889,” van Gogh Museum, http:// www.vangoghletters.org/vg/letters/ let798/letter.html.
29. A. S. Wylie, “Coping with a Dizzying World,” Vincent: Bulletic of the Rijksmuseum Vincent van Gogh, vol. 3, no. 1 (1974): 9, http://turing.library.northwestern.edu/login?url=httyp://search.
Edvard Munch, Influence, Anxiety and Myth” Nineteenth Century Art Worldwide (2012): 6, http://www.19thcartworldwide. org/index.php/autumn09/becomingmyth; Edvard Munch, “MM T 2759, fol. 48r,” Munch Museum, sketchbook, http:// www.emunch.no:8080/cocoon/emunch/ TRANS_HYBRIDMM_T2759.xhtml#. UauziVK167g.15. Edvard Munch, “MM T 2771,” Munch Museum, sketchbook, http://www.emunch.no:8080/cocoon/ emunch/TRANS_HYBRIDMM_T2771.
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38. Edvard Munch, “MM T 2759, fol. 49r,” Munch Museum, sketchbook, http:// www.emunch.no:8080/cocoon/emunch/ TRANS_HYBRIDMM_T2759.xhtml#. UauztFK167g. 39. Edvard Munch, “MM T 2759, fol. 61r,” Munch Museum, sketchbook, http://
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contingent, la moitié de l’art, dont l’autre moitié est l’éternel et l’immuable.” See
48. Schneider, 329. 49. Friedlander, 144. 50. Ibid., 147. 51. Engelhardt, 78.
Gallimard-Pléiade, 1937), 335. *This translation is the writer’s own. Unless otherwise noted, all translations and paraphrasing from the French sources
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54. Howe and Schloesser, 93. 55. Ibid., 92.
jouit pleinement d’une originalité in-
3. Michael Marrinan, Romantic Paris: Histories of a Cultural Landscape, 1800-1850 (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press,
57. Maurer, 6.
4. Baudelaire writes, “Il cherche ce quelque modernité. ” See Baudelaire, “Le Peintre,” 335.
60. Maurer, 40
6. Athanassoglou-Kallmyer, “Blemished
44. Uwe Hentschel, “Defense Mecha-
62. Howe and Schloesser, 66.
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chose qu’on nous permettra d’appeler la
5. Ibid., 333.
61. Ibid., 26.
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14. Athanassoglou-Kallmyer, “Blemished
59. Hentschel, 46.
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56. Ibid., 92-93.
58. “Defense Mechanism,” New World
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11. Charles Baudelaire writes, “Il
and the Cholera Epidemic of 1832,” Art 53. Ibid.
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Journal of Eugène Delacroix, ed. Hubert
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41. Whitmore, 6.
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40. J. Howe and S. Schloesser, Edvard Munch: Psyche, Symbol, and Expression
one needs a subject, it is best not to hark
Charles Baudelaire, “Le Peintre de la vie
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47. “Defense Mechanism,” New World
19. Ibid., 704. 20. Delacroix writes, “Painting like music is higher than thought ; hence it has the advantage over literature.” See Delacroix, Journal, 24. 21. Baudelaire writes, “Cette grande
(March 1984): 512, 514. 31. Trapp, Attainment, 320; Mras, Theory, 58. 32. Baudelaire writes, “…d’après l’image écrite dans leur cerveau, et non d’après
la nature. ” See Baudelaire, “Le Peintre”,
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moderne 2. (Paris : Livre de Poche, 1965),
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23. Athanassoglou-Kallmyer, “Blemished
34. Mras, Theory, 73, 88.
Physiologies,” 703. 24. Ibid., 704.
35. Ibid., 63. 36. Baudelaire writes of Delacroix, “…un
25. Mras, Theory, 16; Marrinan, Romantic
poète en peinture. ” See Baudelaire, Pour
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Baudelaire, Eugène Delacroix, 27. 26. Frank Anderson Trapp, The Attainment of Delacroix (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Press, 1971), 326. 27. Delacroix writes, “How in music, for example, form predominates over matter. In painting, it is just the reverse.” See
16. Ibid., 686.
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laire and Manet,” Critical Inquiry 10(3)
See Baudelaire, Pour Delacroix, 67-69,
Delacroix, Journal, 23.
18. Athanassoglou-Kallmyer, “Blemished
On the Containment of the past in Baude-
symphonie du jour…s’appelle la couleur.”
15. Ibid., 686-688.
17. Baudelaire, Pour Delacroix, 94.
30. Michael Fried, “Painting Memories:
37. Baudelaire, Pour Delacroix, 62-64; Fried, “Painting Memories,” 521. 38. Athanassoglou-Kallmyer, “Blemished Physiologies,” 705; see page 1 for image and artwork information. 39. Baudelaire, Pour Delacroix, 84.
complex “musicien de la peinture.” See Faure, “Le Romantisme,” 37. 29.Baudelaire, Pour Delacroix, 84, 132; Baudelaire, Eugène Delacroix, 27.
FROM THE PRESIDENT » Dear Reader,
I am very excited to present to you the tenth issue of the Northwestern Art Review and the amazing work of our editorial staff. Under the leadership of our new Editor in Chief Hannah Lee, NAR and its editorial staff have put together Haunted for your reading pleasure. Each essay engages with the idea of the past and its lingering influence on our present moment. In this sense, I find the theme “Haunted” particularly relevant as we approach our tenth issue and our fifth anniversary as a student organization at Northwestern University. While its history is relatively brief, the Northwestern Art Review continues to maintain our founding principles. Our 2007 mission statement “to promote art historical discourse at an undergraduate level” remains NAR’s top priority and motive behind our actions as an organization. We are often met with the assumption that the only real “work” or scholarship being conducted at Northwestern is at the graduate level. However, as undergraduates immersed in the communities of the Art History and Art Theory & Practice departments, we know
this assumption to be false. In maintaining a tradition of engagement with the arts, NAR encourages our peers to think critically about what we see on a daily basis.
NAR website as well as more frequent blog content. We also hope to develop a NAR Smartphone app that will help students plan culturally rich experiences in Chicago and Evanston.
The 2012-2013 academic year has been an exciting transformation for the Northwestern Art Review. After a long round of applications and interviews, NAR’s staff grew from eighteen to twenty three. Our new executive board is comprised of students from departments, in addition to Art History and Art Theory & Practice, ranging from Economics to English to Biology to American Studies. We have continued to put on our traditional events, such as Coffee with a Professor, as well as to increase our web presence and engagement with Northwestern students via social media.
Thank you for taking the time to read our tenth issue of the Northwestern Art Review. We appreciate your readership and we hope that you will continue to follow our progress as an academic journal and a student organization!
NANCY DASILVA JUNE 2013
In my time as President, I hope to engage Northwestern in new ways while still maintaining our commitment to promoting the incorporation of art into our everyday lives. In the upcoming academic year you should look forward to a newly designed
NORTHWESTERN / ART / REVIEW
Published on Jul 2, 2013