Freud's Views on Art vs. Arbus' Views on Art

Freud's idea about artists:

Artists' sensitive perception of the hidden indicates that in their knowledge of the human mind "they are far in advance of us everyday people, for they draw upon sources which we have not opened up for science."

Freud had very unique and innovative ideas about the human psyche. His idea about artists says that artists are avant garde psychologists who know the laws which activate the unconscious. Artists want to portray these things that they know, that they have discovered about humans, this something that we all share but may not notice. They reveal it through their art.

I agree with Freud's idea that artists see things that other people neglect. However, I think that if what Freud termed "everyday people" studied art enough, they too could learn to see an artist's insight into the world and in studying other's could learn how to uncover their own insights about the world. This does not mean that everyone has the skill to be an artist, obviously some people are better at math than painting a cityscape. Although, with training, I do believe that everyone can think like an artist.

One of Freud's main concerns in psychology was unearthing the unconscious desires that created problems in mental health. The Id was responsible for these unconscious urges, but defense mechanisms were developed to repress the Id's desires. So, if artists have effectively delved into the science of the mind, that had not been opened up to science yet, they must have delved into the unconscious, at least partially. I believe this is true. Artists' goal is to make their audience react, what type of reaction depends on the artist. For example, some artists want a reaction of sympathy like Van Gogh's "Dr. Gachet," where as others want one of awe, such as Michelangelo's "Creation of Adam." No matter what kind of reaction they are looking for, they are looking for one, and to do this, they need to know how to get it out of their audience, how to push their buttons. Essentially, they need to know how the audience thinks.

 

Diane Arbus's view of art:

"You don't put into a photograph what's going to come out. Or vice versa, what comes out is not what you put in. I have never taken a picture I've intended. They're always better or worse."

I believe this quote is very true of any artist, from painting to music to movies. An artist sees a problem that they want to address, or finds a statement that they want to make. Then they dream up a way to do so in their personal medium. However, when the painter starts the painting, their vision never turns out quite the way they planned. Some parts may look better than anticipated, or another part draws them in and they go off in a completely different direction than intended. The artist is feeling her way through a familiar room that is completely dark, as Professor Kubovy described. For example, when I begin designing clothes, I have a wonderful idea in my head, and when I draw it on paper, the two look pretty similar. However, once I begin making the dress, that is when small alterations begin also. The material I want to use may not be available in the color I want, or I may cut one piece wrong, but really like the way it looks, so I can try to change this dress or begin a whole new design. It is fun to see an idea come to life. It is even more fun to have an idea and then see where it takes you. Artists both own and create art. They are the birthplace or the idea and statement being made by the art, but at the same time, in the process of making it, the art can lead the artist into a new path, a new answer to the problem, a new problem, a new path to the same answer...There are infinite possibilities of how artists and art interchange, but the artist will also decide what the final piece looks like.

For me, I prefer Ms. Arbus' explanation of art. It seems to me that no matter how hard someone tries, what they dream and what is produced is never the same. Take my website for example, at the beginning of the semester, I had this huge, wonderful idea of EXACTLY how I wanted my website to look....It did not turn out the way I planned, needless to say, BUT I like the way it did turn out. Once I got it going, I came up with even better ideas, and some original ideas didn't work, so I had to change them. But, in the end it all worked out just fine; every artist will have to deal with some let downs, but so does every profession.


PSYC 355, to go back

mm5nb@virginia.edu