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Spector, J.J. (2000). Introduction. Am. Imago, 57(4):335-338.

(2000). American Imago, 57(4):335-338


Jack J. Spector

At Frankfurt University a Graduate Department founded in 1996 has defined its field in interdisciplinary terms as the “Psychic Energies of Art.” The papers published in this and the next issue of American Imago originated in a symposium held under its auspices.

The Department has in common with the Frankfurt Institute for Social Research (the “Frankfurt School”)1 both its location and its interest in psychoanalysis. The Department has attempted to reinvigorate literary criticism and art history in Germany by fostering a collaboration among psychologists, critics and historians of literature, and art historians. To this end it has nominated a number of interested Associates who have been invited to collaborate with members in an attempt to “reconstruct the historical conditions of the production and impact of art above all through psychological, sociopsychological and psychoanalytic models.” It has primarily concentrated on German rather than French, English or American theory and art—with the exception of Italian Renaissance art (an interest it shares with Freud). The work of the Department thus offers us an insight into the current status of psychoanalytically oriented cultural investigation among those German-speaking scholars mainly interested in the Renaissance (hence their subjects and their emphasis on Kris, who did not treat art later than the eighteenth century).2

The symposium was held in Vienna in 1997, concurrent with the major exhibition Kunst und Wahn that inspired its theme and title—“Irritation, Imagination, Identification.” On that occasion the Associates presented papers in German, many of which sensitively explored the affective and intentional aspects of psychotic art.

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