Psychoanalysis and American Art
‘…I shall avoid the temptation of entering upon a critique of American civilization; I do not wish to give an impression of wanting myself to employ American methods.’
Sigmund Freud, Civlization and its Discontents (1931).
‘…some intellectuals go so far as to relate the demise of the intellectual community in America to the importation of psychoanalysis.’
Shulamith Firestone, The Dialectic of Sex: The Case for Feminist Revolution (1970)
What is the significance of psychoanalysis to the development of American art and the writing of American art history? What does the importation, exportation and practice of different psychoanalytic theories in the United States tell us about artists, art making and art writing? What does psychoanalysis tell us about artistic relations between Europe and the United States? Does psychoanalysis provide fruitful perspectives on American art made prior to the development of analytic discourse at the beginning of the twentieth century? Are there any specific factors in American art and culture that make psychoanalysis a necessary critical approach for the art historian?