Legend, Myth, and Magic in the Image of the Artist

Legend, Myth, and Magic in the Image of the Artist: A Historical Experiment

Ernst Kris
Otto Kurz
Preface by E. H. Gombrich
Copyright Date: 1979
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 176
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt32bh6g
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Legend, Myth, and Magic in the Image of the Artist
    Book Description:

    "This is the first English translation of a brief, scholarly, and brilliantly original work which sets out to examine the links between the legend of the artist, in all cultures, and what E.H. Gombrich, in an introductory essay, calls 'certain invariant traits of the human psyche.'"-Denis Thomas,Journal of the Royal Society of Arts"This book gathers together various legends and attitudes about artists, ancient and modern, East and West, and gives fascinating insights into attitudes toward artistic creation. It impinges on psychology, art history and history, aesthetics, biography, myth and magic, and will be of great interest to a wide audience in many fields…. A delightful and unrivalled study."-Howard Hibbard"Thought provoking and valuable…. To all those interested in psychiatry and art from the perspectives of history, criticism, or therapy and to the wide audience concerned with the psychology of aesthetics and of artistic creation."-Albert Rothenberg,American Journal of PsychiatryErnst Kriswas a psychoanalyst who wrote on a wide variety of subjects, including art.Otto Kurzwas librarian of the Warburg Institute in London.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-16179-3
    Subjects: Art & Art History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xiv)
    E. H. Gombrich
  4. Foreword
    (pp. xv-xvi)
    Ernst Kris and Otto Kurz

    We have subtitled this book “An Experiment,” not in order to limit our responsibility but in order to characterize the intention of this study: we wish to record a series of questions without claiming to offer definitive answers.

    External reasons, most of all considerations of length, have forced us to renounce any idea of completeness. From the wealth of material available, we have made a selection that appeared to us sufficient to document our arguments and justify our assumptions. Other reasons deriving from the material itself enjoined restraint: many of the relationships which we discovered in the course of our...

  5. 1 Introduction
    (pp. 1-12)

    The “riddle of the artist,” the mystery surrounding him, and the magic emanating from him, can be viewed from two perspectives. One can investigate the nature of the man capable of creating works of art of the kind that we admire—that is the psychological approach. Or one can ask how such a man, whose works are readily accorded a particular value, is himself evaluated by his contemporaries—the sociological approach.

    Both approaches presuppose that there is a riddle—that certain special, and as yet ill-defined, traits and dispositions are required for artistic creation, and that certain periods and cultures...

  6. 2 The Heroization of the Artist in Biography
    (pp. 13-60)

    The universal interest in everything reported about the childhood and youth of exceptional persons has deep roots in the human mind. This interest is usually accounted for in two ways. One point of view states that childhood events have a decisive impact on the future development of man; hence the attempts to demonstrate the early influence of fate in the lives of the great men of history. The other interprets the earliest available information about the lives of the heroes not as precursors in terms of causality, but as premonitory signs; it sees in the experiences of the child an...

  7. 3 The Artist as Magician
    (pp. 61-90)

    The evaluation of the artist’s achievement seems to depend to some extent upon a comparison between the work of art and nature, even though the connection may at times be so remote that it is not consciously perceived. This comparison proceeds from two opposite points of view. One of them can be summed up by the anecdote about Zeuxis. Painting his picture of Helen, he selected the most beautiful feature of five different girls and incorporated each into his portrait. The conception on which this anecdote is based views the task of the artist, in accordance with Plato’s theory of...

  8. 4 The Special Position of the Artist in Biography
    (pp. 91-132)

    In the preceding chapters we have attempted to find the roots from which several themes in artists’ biographies grew. In this final section we are concerned with a new problem: the special position accorded to the artist by his contemporaries. Here too we shall have to confine ourselves to presenting only a few typical biographical motifs. In view of this restriction, the insight we can gain is of necessity fragmentary and limited. For we shall have to exclude from consideration all that pertains to the actual position of the artist in society—what it was like in different historical periods...

  9. Bibliography
    (pp. 133-148)
  10. Index
    (pp. 149-159)