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Viederman, M. (1990). Psychoanalytic Perspectives on Art, Volume 3: Edited by Mary Mathews Gedo. Hillsdale, NJ: The Analytic Press, 1988. 314 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 59:481-486.

(1990). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 59:481-486

Psychoanalytic Perspectives on Art, Volume 3: Edited by Mary Mathews Gedo. Hillsdale, NJ: The Analytic Press, 1988. 314 pp.

Review by:
Milton Viederman

This beautifully designed book is a pleasure to read. For a person interested in art and psychoanalysis, it offers a delightful excursion that unites the two fields in an interdisciplinary dialogue. As was true with the second volume in the series, the third volume has a focus, this time articles on the Renaissance and the surrealists, particularly de Chirico and Ernst. As is the case with any anthology, there is variability in the quality and in the degree to which the arguments in different articles are convincing, but the general level is high. A sampling of the contents reveals a wide diversity of approaches and interests.

John A. Philips's examination of Michelangelo's fresco of Adam and Eve in the Sistine Chapel richly interweaves theology, history, high and popular culture, and personal themes important to Michelangelo, such as Eros and Thanatos, birth and death, innocence and corruption. This article is a model of integrated scholarship. The history of the serpent in the fresco reveals the view of woman as the seducer, the temptress, the potential evil force. As such, the female head of the serpent and Eve's reaching out to it, suggest her identity with evil forces. Philips emphasizes how this view of woman was gradually tempered by Augustine who established Eve's full humanity; nonetheless, sensuality has seduced reason in the disruption of paradise. Next follows a fascinating section that demonstrates how compositional elements of the painting reveal a high degree of eroticism.

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