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Brown, W. (1924). Expressionism in Art: By Dr. Oskar Pfister. Translation by Barbara Low, B.A., and M. A. Mügge, Ph.D. (Published by Kegan, Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co. Pp. 272. Price 6 s. 6 d.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 5:220-221.
(1924). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 5:220-221
Expressionism in Art: By Dr. Oskar Pfister. Translation by Barbara Low, B.A., and M. A. Mügge, Ph.D. (Published by Kegan, Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co. Pp. 272. Price 6 s. 6 d.
Review by: Warburton Brown
In this book by the well-known writer on psycho-analysis, Dr. Oskar Pfister of Zurich, the author endeavours to show the unconscious meaning of certain modern tendencies in graphic art such as post-impressionism, cubism, futurism, etc., which he includes under the heading of 'expressionism'—a term which, in spite of what the author says to the contrary, does not seem to be altogether happy in its use to describe any one particular kind of art.
He sets out to show how the unconscious motives giving rise to the creation of these forms of art can be brought to light by the process of psycho-analysis. In the particular case he has selected for analysis he succeeds in doing so quite clearly. For this purpose he takes the case of a neurotic young artist, and after a brief analysis of some remembered phantasies and dreams of childhood asks him to produce some drawings to which the artist gives his associations. The drawings themselves in the ordinarily accepted sense of the word 'beauty' possess none, neither of line, form, nor composition. The author shows, however, that they resemble other disguised and elaborated products of the unconscious like the dream and the neuroticsymptom in that they possess not only a manifest content but a latent one also.
For instance, in the so-called portraits of the analyst, so different from one another as to lead to no suggestion that they are supposed to represent the same person, there is very little realistic presentation. But from the associations the author shows that the distorted and monster-like features are due to a projection on to the analyst of hostile feelings properly belonging to the father with whom the artist has unconsciously identified him.
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