The relationship between mental health and artistry has been romanticised since the beginning of verbal/written language, and the notion of the tortured artist has always been present within public consciousness (potentially) longer, rarely challenged.But, why is that? Is there a correlation between the two? The suffering of an artist has been romanticised to a fatal degree over the centuries but giving art its insight. With that insight, one form of art couldn’t birth other art-forms (i.
e. Post-Impressionism’s birth from Impressionism). This poetic antithesis of beauty and despair could turn a nihilistic pessimist (who would perceive the universe as cold, meaningless, and random) to a situational optimist. This may explain the appeal of the concept of the ‘tortured artist.’Picasso said that “We all know that Art isn’t the truth. Art is a lie that makes us realize truth, at least the truth that is given us to understand.
” Reading and analysing how Van-Gogh and Munch chose to portray themselves in their respective self-portraits will hopefully reveal the truth. However, as Oscar-Wilde states: “Art never expresses anything but itself” … So, what is it?The aim of this project is to determine whether there is a correlation between artistry and mood disorders, such as depression and schizophrenia, using examples primarily from the post-impressionist art period. Some studies (as specified later) suggest a correlation between creativity and mental health issues within creative studies. However, other studies show no significant correlation between mental health and creativity, and any significance is purely correlational not implying causation.
In other words, there isn’t necessarily a predisposition for an artist to be mentally ill. But it would be foolish to not admit that there’s a common thread in prevalent art figures throughout history.That’s what this project will decipher through weighing different perspectives and debate, using articles, journals, books and other forms of media to find the answer.But, why did I choose this specific topic area? I’ve been interested in artists from the post-impressionist, such as Van-Gogh, Paul-Cezanne etc, their interpretations of their respective worlds, and the tragedies that highlighted their lives and deaths. All great art appears to come from a place of pain, with pivotal pieces coming from a place of emotion. Like Milton writing Paradise Lost after losing his wife, daughter, and his eyesight; or Plath wrote a series of confessional poetry pieces before her infamous suicide in 1963. Suggesting that mental illness is a constant in an artist’s life – therefore one may not be able to exist without the other.
What articles or books have you used and why?By accumulating knowledge from books and articles on post-impressionism, artists prevalent in that art period, and journals/research projects from Scientific America, American Psychology Society, and Goldsmiths University.For the Art History component, I read artist biographies, including books and dissertations exploring their art and lives. I Found that each artist thread of tragedy and fallacy in their lives that ultimately lead to their unique perspectives (which is discussed in depth later in the literary review of this dissertation).
But, for the Psychology and Mental Health component of my research, I read various dissertations, psychological studies, theories, and journals online that assessed the subject area of mood disorders, the artists dilemma and how outsider art is formed from ‘madness’.Also reading books (inc. Insanity and Genius: Masks of Madness and Mapping of Meaning and Value by Henry Eiss, Art Through the Ages by Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, etc.
) that investigated/analysed theories around the psyche of these specified artists, each considering studies and using them to base their opinions. I chose the books/articles/journals etc. that I did to gain a greater understanding of the substance of both subject areas (Art History and Mental Health), using that information to understand each artists’ lives and using their preserved wants and motivations to form an educated opinion.