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Spitz, E.H. (1989). Art and Life. Aspects of Michelangelo: By Nathan Leites. New York/London: New York University Press, 1986. 157 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 58:145-149.

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(1989). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 58:145-149

Art and Life. Aspects of Michelangelo: By Nathan Leites. New York/London: New York University Press, 1986. 157 pp.

Review by:
Ellen Handler Spitz

Ever since Freud's 1914 paper on the Moses in San Pietro in Vincoli, psychoanalysts have been fascinated by Michelangelo. A partial list of psychoanalytically informed works on this titanic and protean artist would include the studies by such authors as Stokes, the Sterbas, Liebert, and Oremland, as well as brief references in the works of countless others. Thus, the slender volume reviewed here joins an extant and varied body of literature to which it contributes by offering a unique organization and methodology. In what follows here, I shall focus on its methodology, for the apparent strengths and weaknesses of Nathan Leites's approach have perhaps as much to teach us as the more substantive elements of his text.


1 Stokes, A. (1955): Michelangelo: A Study in the Nature of Art. London: Tavistock.

2 Sterba, R. F. & Sterba, E. (1956): The anxieties of Michelangelo Buonarroti. Int. J. Psychoanal., 37:325-330; (1978): The personality of Michelangelo Buonarroti: some reflections. Amer. Imago, 35:158-177.

3 Liebert, R. S. (1977): Michelangelo's mutilation of the Florentine Pietà: a psychoanalytic inquiry. Art Bull., 59:47-54; (1977): Michelangelo's Dying Slave: a psychoanalytic study in iconography. Psychoanal. Study Child, 32:505-543; (1979): Michelangelo's early works: a psychoanalytic study in iconography. Psychoanal. Study Child, 34:463-525; (1983): Michelangelo: A Psychoanalytic Study of the Man and His Images. New Haven/London: Yale Univ. Press.

4 Oremland, J. D. (1985): Mourning and its effect on Michelangelo's art. Annual Psychoanal., 8:317-351; (1985): Michelangelo's Ignudi, hermaphrodism, and creativity. Psychoanal. Study Child, 40:399-433.

5 Among others, see Wollheim, R. (1974): On Art and the Mind (Chapters 10 and 15). Cambridge: Harvard Univ. Press; Fuller, P. (1980): Art and Psychoanalysis (Chapter 1). London: Writers and Readers Cooperative; Spruiell, V. (1985): The joke in "The Moses of Michelangelo": imagination and creativity. Psychoanal. Study Child, 40:473-492; Gedo, M. M., Editor (1985): Psychoanalytic Perspectives on Art (Section 4). Hillsdale, NJ: Analytic Press; Spitz, E. H. (1985): Art and Psyche: A Study in Psychoanalysis and Aesthetics (Chapter 3). New Haven/London: Yale Univ. Press.

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