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Maclagan, D. (1992). Between psychoanalysis and surrealism: the collaboration between Grace Pailthorpe and Reuben Mednikoff. Free Associations, 3(1):33-50.

(1992). Free Associations, 3(1):33-50

Feature: Psychoanalysis and Art

Between psychoanalysis and surrealism: the collaboration between Grace Pailthorpe and Reuben Mednikoff

David Maclagan

The relationship between psychoanalysis in its early years (say, up to 1930) and art was a rather uneasy and one-sided one: art — and in this context my focus is on paintings and drawings — assumed something like a ‘patient’ role, in that whatever evidence or insight it provided was obtained through its being subjected to a kind of cross-examination in the light of what has been characterized as a ‘hermeneutics of suspicion’ (Ricoeur, 1970, pp. 32-6), rather than through a more direct form of communication. For Freud, the artist is essentially a neurotic just like any other, even if he is mysteriously granted a certain ‘flexibility of repression’ and despite the inexplicable gift that enables him to make his fantasies acceptable to others.

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