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Kite, S. (2005). Adrian Stokes and the “Aesthetic Position” Envelopment and Otherness. Ann. Psychoanal., 33:139-160.

(2005). Annual of Psychoanalysis, 33:139-160

Adrian Stokes and the “Aesthetic Position” Envelopment and Otherness

Stephen Kite, Ph.D.

In Adrian Stokes's (1902-1972) post World War II writings, the viewpoint of art and architecture that had previously foregrounded “carving” and the artistic achievements of the depressive Kleinian position, transmutes to a more complex analysis whereby greater credence is given to the “modelling” process and the role that fusion plays in the creation and appreciation of the art object, together with object-otherness. Stokes now defines an “aesthetic position” in which the “incantatory” aspects of art act in concert, and in simultaneity with, his long-held assertion of “otherness.” This essay examines how Stokes arrives at this more inter-related spatiality within the context of contemporary attempts to define a Kleinian aesthetic and investigates how these psychoanalytical concepts are actually experienced and played out in the situatedness of architectonic reality (see also Kite, 2002 and 2003).

Positioning Aesthetics—Klein, Stokes, Segal, Milner

Adrian Stokes—aesthete, critic, painter and poet—is linked to John Ruskin and Walter Pater as one of the greatest writers in the English aesthetic tradition. The vision of art his writing conveys is humanistic and intensely corporeal and his influence was a notable factor in the formation of English Modernism in the 1930s—affecting artists of the stature of Ben Nicholson and Barbara Hepworth. Of especial import here is the seven-year analysis he began with Melanie Klein in 1930: her ideas, and the language of psychoanalysis, become increasingly evident in his post-World War II writings which, in their totality, represent a significant project to understand the nature of art and the creative dynamics of the psyche.


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