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Rose, G.J. (1990). Michelangelo's Sistine Ceiling: A Psychoanalytic Study of Creativity: By Jerome D. Oremland. Madison. CN: International Universities Press. 1989. Pp. xvii+322.. Int. R. Psycho-Anal., 17:391-393.

(1990). International Review of Psycho-Analysis, 17:391-393

Michelangelo's Sistine Ceiling: A Psychoanalytic Study of Creativity: By Jerome D. Oremland. Madison. CN: International Universities Press. 1989. Pp. xvii+322.

Review by:
Gilbert J. Rose

Should paintings Be or should paintings Mean? Philosophers of art (Harries, 1982) tell us that this question never arose until the Enlightenment. Before then there was little question but that art, attempting to deal with man's deepest concerns, was in the service of religion. Making something beautiful was significant for the medieval artist as a way of serving God.

The aesthetic approach to art arose only in the eighteenth century. This view held that if there is Meaning to a work of art it lies wholly in its Being: being perfect and therefore self-sufficient, nothing is missing, nothing is superfluous. the perfect integrity of the work of art is said to contribute to the feeling of wholeness on the part of the observer. Kasimir Malevich's suprematist art aimed at transporting man out of the prison-house of language into the freedom to let things be, not ask questions of them in the anxiety to find answers, and be happy by being at one with oneself.

The hermeneuticists reply, with Kant, that the ideal of art standing on its own by dint of its very presence is an impossible fiction; whatever access there may be to what is can only be by way of ideas and these require the mediation of language. Art always refers back to the intention of its creator. Its significance lies in its Meaning and (often as a corollary to this) meaning requires interpretation by Words.

Without stating the terms of the philosophical choice that underlies Jerome D. Oremland's book on Michelangelo's Sistine Ceiling, the position it takes is clear.

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