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Deutsch, F. (1959). Creative Passion of the Artist and its Synesthetic Aspects. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 40:38-51.

(1959). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 40:38-51

Creative Passion of the Artist and its Synesthetic Aspects

Felix Deutsch, M.D.

The main body of this essay was written several years ago with the intention of having it critically appraised by Ernst Kris before publication. It is based on the writings on art by Freud and others (4), (12), (19), (22), (31), (35), (36), (40), (41), (45), (46), (49), but mainly by Ernst Kris (26), (27), (28), (29), (30). It contains reflections on the motivation for artistic creativity, particularly of sculptors, and their urge to recreate living forms as if resolving their own unconscious conflicts in this manner.

Ernst Kris had the passion of the scientist—the intellectual passion which requires originality. 'Creative scientists spend their lives', as Michael Polanyi (37) had only recently pointed out, 'in trying to guess right. They are sustained and guided therein by their heuristic passion. Even as the artist's sensibility merges into his creative powers. Such is the heuristic function of scientific passion.'

Twenty-five years ago I had a discussion with Ernst Kris on my observations of the facial expressions of dying patients in the hospital ward. He had at that time just published his critical appreciations of the work of Franz Xaver Messerschmidt, and particularly of how this paranoid artist succeeded in representing the physiognomy of anxiety, anger, frustration, greed, etc., in the faces of his figures. They were all self-portraits, asking, as it were, 'Who am I?' but also of those outside of him, who laugh at him, are angry with him, afraid of him, etc.

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