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Hulbeck, C. (1961). Self-Alienation and Self-Confirmation in Modern Art. Am. J. Psychoanal., 21(2):173-179.

(1961). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 21(2):173-179

Self-Alienation and Self-Confirmation in Modern Art

Charles Hulbeck, M.D.

Any Evaluation of art, aesthetically or psychologically, presupposes some sort of general concept about the meaning of art in human existence. The fact that there was artistic activity many thousands of years ago which produced drawings, paintings, and sculptural work by no means inferior to the artistic work of today makes it clear that art and artistic expression are only partly bound to specific historical periods, and that it is also a fundamental expression, a primary and original psychological move of man. If we accept Jung's archetypal ideas, we may say that art has an archetypal character. There has always been art as there has always been a drive for power, a sexual instinct, a fear of the unknown and the infinite. Art is equally as important to man as his religious drives, reactions, or feelings of many sorts. In other words: art cannot be eradicated from human existence. This means that if we look at art today we have to think of the fact that the present only produces a specific type of art, yet is inevitably linked to the archetypal need for aesthetic expression.

The primary instinct of art, the original drive to express oneself in art, the aesthetic ability in man was very often covered by cultural values or requests. Any interpretation of man's aesthetic accomplishments should, therefore, be a careful investigation of the manifold psychological and cultural aspects of art. Whether primitive man drew a buffalo because he wanted to catch and eat it or because he was afraid of it, or because he simply enjoyed imitating its image, or whether he drew for religious or other purposes is quite impossible to say.

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