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Simons, R.C. (1984). Creativity, Mourning, and the Dread of Paternity: Reflections on the Life and Art of Gustav Vigeland. Int. R. Psycho-Anal., 11:181-197.

(1984). International Review of Psycho-Analysis, 11:181-197

Creativity, Mourning, and the Dread of Paternity: Reflections on the Life and Art of Gustav Vigeland

Richard C. Simons


This paper has explored some of the possible relationships between creativity, mourning, and procreativity as reflected in the life and in the art of the Norwegian sculptor, Gustav Vigeland. I believe there is evidence to suggest that unresolved mourning related to childhood sibling loss and adolescent parent loss, as well as conflicted feminine and maternal identifications associated

with a dread of paternity, constituted powerful forces in Vigeland's life—not 'outside' himself but very much within himself. Vigeland's art—which has given us some of the most moving images of children, and of parents with children, ever sculpted—may have represented at least in part his attempt to undo and restore the losses of his past, to master his feminine and maternal identifications, and to create in bronze and granite the parental bonds that he was compelled to reject in life.

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