But, how does this correlate to Mental Health? During the 19th Century, the emergence of Psychoanalysis and the importance of the unconscious on the conscience was prevalent in exploring the psychology of art and the artist. Considering Munch was within a generation with Sigmund Freud, understood the power of subjective experience and the irrational forces of the mind, a developed context shows Munch as a diagnostician of the psychological human condition, educated on the artistic and intellectual trends of the time.Being the first to apply the principles of psychoanalysis to art, Freud chose his subject: the life and work of Leonardo da Vinci, as a point of theoretical exploration. Observing Leonardo’s partly fused image of the Virgin and St. Anne, he inferred that the artist had depicted his two mothers, his biological mother and his stepmother. Early psychological discussion of parent loss and adoption through Da Vinci, changing how art is interpreted. Based on limited knowledge and the childhood memory of Leonardo’s artistic and scientific contributions, Freud identified with this Renaissance genius in his own self-analytic and creative attempt at definitions.
Van Gogh and Munch experienced familial loss, through the deaths of Van Gogh’s elder brother of the same name, and several prominent members of Munch’s family, among their youths. Therefore, the death of Munch’s mother from tuberculosis when he was 5 created a trauma that triggered an unconscious fantasy that crystallized and permeated his life, formed his behaviour and revealed itself through his art. It’s suggested by a PsycINFO study, that a recurrent curvilinear form of Munch’s work unconsciously represents his mother.
Ultimately, Munch’s struggle led to an uneasy resolution, for him to remain recluse, towards the end of his life. There’s some evidence of this peace in isolation via his relationship with his children, his paintings, the objects of his creativity. However, Van Gogh’s experience of familial loss manifested itself in fantasies of being replaced, being a double and a twin.
The replacement child, often given the name of the deceased, is prone to fantasies that they’re the embodiment of the dead child, which in Van Gogh’s case was permeated by his environment (Having the exact name and parish registry number as his brother). This is shown through his slightly altered self-portraits which are regarded as relevant to his being a replacement child.His fantasies of death, rebirth, of being a double and a twin, contributed to his psyche and creativity. However, this study suggests “…No single fantasy or theme can account for the complexities of development, disorder, or creativity.
” Van Gogh’s art was vastly overdetermined producing a vast amount of painting and drawings over his lifetime, potentially because of the motivation of the replacement child syndrome, trying to justify his survival, surpass his rival double/twin through great achievement, repair parental depression, and defy death through “immortality”. Alternative theories into Van Gogh’s psyche suggests that his art’s intensity is due to a brain lesion many doctors believe was aggravated by his prolonged use of absinthe (an alcoholic beverage known to cause hallucinations) caused his epileptic condition. Van Gogh allegedly treated his epilepsy with digitalis, a treatment that can cause Xanthopsia. Which could have been the reason why Van Gogh was obsessed with that colour. But, Van Gogh naturally used plenty of other colours. Consider paintings from his Dutch period, primarily used browns, grey and green tones. But, his Parisian pieces, where his palette became noticeably lighter and brighter.
Another analysis of Van Gogh’s paintings, as well as his own writing, support the application of the principles of psychophysics and the experience of synaesthesia and offer another explanation of the relationship of colour, perception and emotion. Van Gogh suffered from an array of mental issues, but no incidents of mental illness are recorded among van Gogh’s ancestors, in an article entitled “The Illness of Vincent van Gogh.” by Dr Blumer, which is odd considering the propensity for mental disorders in families.Both artists had several causes for their ailment, which appeared to inform their art.In modern times, the correlation between art and mental illness has been used to produce treatment methods, such as art therapy.