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Rose, G.J. (1990). Psychoanalytic Perspectives on Art, Vol. 3 edited by Mary Mathews Gedo Hillsdale, NJ: The Analytic Press, 1988, xvi + 314 pp., $34.50. Psa. Books, 1(1):110-114.

(1990). Psychoanalytic Books, 1(1):110-114

Psychoanalytic Perspectives on Art, Vol. 3 edited by Mary Mathews Gedo Hillsdale, NJ: The Analytic Press, 1988, xvi + 314 pp., $34.50

Review by:
Gilbert J. Rose, M.D.

Under able editorship, PPA continues to serve up high quality interdisciplinary fare, refreshingly free of jargon, in a richly illustrated handsome format. After an introductory section on Renaissance art, Volume 3 centers on Surrealism and Modern Art. It features six papers on de Chirico and Max Ernst (four by art historians and two by analysts), and two essays on Surrealism (one each by an analyst and art historian). The final third of the book takes up miscellaneous aspects of Modern Art and concludes with two reviews of James Lord's biography of the sculptor Giacometti, an early member of the Surrealist group.

The opening essay, “An Affinity Between the Comic and the Sublime in Pictorial Imagery” by Avigdor W. G. Posèq, is notable in that it is the only one that approaches the nature of the aesthetic response. Demonstrating that both caricature and the sublime make use of anatomical foreshortening and therefore often need to be viewed in context to avoid confusing one with the other, the author theorizes that the aesthetic experience has to do with the release of energy made available when a (visual) problem is deciphered.

Perhaps for similar energic reasons, John A. Phillips's “Michelangelo's Eve in the Sistine Temptation” wins this reviewer's gratitude for a delicious paper that makes learning sheer pleasure. He takes us on a wide-ranging excursion that combines the ribald with the scholarly, Michelangelo's “original sin” and obscene gestures, theology and wit—while examining the character and covert activity of Eve in the “Temptation” and leading us to fresh insight into why it is the “Creation of Eve” (not Adam) that occupies the midpoint of the Sistine vault, and the relationship of this to the Second Eve, the birth of Christ, and the Church. Read it.

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