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Art of the Unconscious – St. Louis Art Museum

After World War I, modern ideals of scientific progress and rationality appeared absurd to many artists in the devastating wake of 20th-century warfare.  Psychoanalysts Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung identified the unconscious mind as the source of humanity’s primal creative and destructive drives.

In response, artists experimented with a variety of ways to represent the unconscious.  Pablo Picasso’s freely drawn compositions suggest dreamlike, often violent imagery.  Paul Klee sought to access the unconscious by emulating the art of children and the mentally ill, which he celebrated as more sincere than traditional art.  Robert Matta used automatic writing as a way of exploring suppressed creative impulses.

During the 1940s, the emphasis these European artists place on the importance of the unconscious influenced a generation of American abstract painters.  Other American artists such as Kay Sage used representational forms to suggest the mysteries of the unconscious.

(Pictured: For the Wind to Tear, Kay Sage, 1964)

Filed under Art unconscious psychology Kay Sage st. louis art museum

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