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Rose, G.J. (1989). Psychoanalytic Perspectives on Art, Volume 2: Edited and with an Introduction by Mary Mathews Gedo. Hillsdale, NJ/London: The Analytic Press, 1987. 342 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 58:301-305.

(1989). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 58:301-305

Psychoanalytic Perspectives on Art, Volume 2: Edited and with an Introduction by Mary Mathews Gedo. Hillsdale, NJ/London: The Analytic Press, 1987. 342 pp.

Review by:
Gilbert J. Rose

Recent years have witnessed a quicker pace and improved calibre of interdisciplinary studies. Volume 2 of Psychoanalytic Perspectives on Art, like its predecessor, fosters this welcome trend with a high standard and handsome format.

"Delacroix's Personality in Its Relation to His Art," by Jack Spector, makes it evident that Delacroix's multilevel conflicts accounted for his fascination with intensity while he yearned for tranquility. Repressed rage at both of his parents, stemming from early traumatic experiences, including doubts about the true identity of his father, appears to have contributed to the painter's choice of sadistic, cannibalistic subject matter.

While some of the dynamic formulations seem more formulaic than convincing, and although the flow of the text is interrupted by numerous (72) lengthy, if relevant footnotes, this paper is rewarding for two reasons, both of which underline the importance of the regulatory functions of the ego. It gives due weight, first of all, to the multiplicity of factors involved in artistic expression. Painting provided Delacroix with a conflict-free holding environment (he once referred to painting as "a kind, indulgent mother" [p. 30]), an expressive outlet for powerful passions, and an instrument for cognitive mastery. It compensated for disappointments, verified potency, and reinforced self-esteem. Secondly, the paper details how his artistic and emotional development proceeded in parallel. As his emotional life settled down, Delacroix's art developed toward an objectivity of decorative harmony and optical analysis.

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