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Meerloo, J.A. (1953). Three Artists: An Essay on Creative Urge and Artistic Perturbation. Am. Imago, 10(3):247-263.

(1953). American Imago, 10(3):247-263

Three Artists: An Essay on Creative Urge and Artistic Perturbation

Joost A. M. Meerloo, M.D.


There is nothing so confusing as reading about modern art and the manifold exclamations about what real beauty is. A psychological investigation of artistic motives may give us a better understanding if we evade the pitfall of reducing too much to simple factors in childhood, which play such a tremendous role in neuroses. The mystery of human creation is related to the mysterious difference between man and animal.

What is it in man that tries to come to a purer realization through all the pains and sorrow of the creative act? What is that urge, that expresses itself in forms and colors or musical sounds through all the ages? Is this actually a psychological question? Are we allowed to dissect analytically the only permanent creations of human living, thinking and acting? Yes, we have to, because the creative artist lives in each of us. Art is not only creation of beauty, it is also communication, human expression, and as such everybody produces and reforms the art of his time. Every creative act is part of the general creativity of an epoch.

Perhaps someone will say that I am not allowed to raise mere psychological questions when we meditate about the arts and eternal beauty. Here is something created beyond the mechanics of the soul. He may be right, but in everyday practice, when we come in touch with the miracle of the creation of beauty we feel and reexperience something of the emotions of the creator. Unwillingly we identify with the creative artist. Art arouses our own emotions and daydreams.

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