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Meltzer, D. (1965). The Invitation in Art: By Adrian Stokes. With a Preface by Richard Wollheim. (London: Tavistock, 1965. Pp. 98. 18s.). Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 46:533-534.

(1965). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 46:533-534

The Invitation in Art: By Adrian Stokes. With a Preface by Richard Wollheim. (London: Tavistock, 1965. Pp. 98. 18s.)

Review by:
Donald Meltzer

The practice of analysis is, like athletics, an exacting pursuit, and most analysts find themselves, as the late Maxwell Gitelson thought proper, closely confined to their consulting rooms, engaged with the depths of the unconscious in self and patients. If they are convinced, as they need to be, of the primacy of psychic reality for man's perception of the outside world, they are inclined to a pessimistic view of human relationships. Individuals come to seem inevitably isolated, as described by Matthew Arnold, by the sheer complexity of their internal processes and the apparent poverty of communicative capacity. The work of analysis drives analysts to join John Wyndham in his fantasy of communication by thought-pictures, as in The Chrysalids.

To this isolation and pessimism the researches of Adrian Stokes come as a balm and an enlightenment, for he has shown us that thought-pictures are no dream of the future but have been the therapy and the binding linkages of culture for millenia. In five books— Michelangelo (1955), Greek Culture and the Ego (1958), Three Essays on the Painting of Our Time (1961), Painting and the Inner World (1963), The Invitation in Art (1965)—written over a ten year period, in fewer than five hundred pages, he has produced the first comprehensive theory of the nature of art which can claim a firm link to psycho-analysis, and yet not fall under the shadow of being a psycho-analytic theory of art. Painter, historian, connoisseur, Stokes brings a gift to psycho-analysis, rather than being a debtor to it, for his ideas are those of the artist-philosopher who has found in the language of psycho-analysis a means of expressing his insights.

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