Art and Photography
Resources

 email page    print page

All Topic Reviews
1000 Families2 ¼32 Stories365 Days51 Months5x7A Child's Life and Other StoriesA Couple of Ways of Doing SomethingA Lifetime of SecretsA Storybook LifeA Treasury of Victorian MurderActing OutAddiction and ArtAEIOUAfter PhotographyAliveAlive with Alzheimer'sAlone Together POCAltered StatesAmazing WomenAmelia's WorldAmerica at HomeAmerican AlphabetsAmnesiaAn American LensAn Exact MindAngel's WorldAngry Youth Comix #2Anjos ProibidosAnthony GoicoleaArchitecture of AuthorityArt After Conceptual ArtArt and HomosexualityArt and PhotographyArt in Three DimensionsArt Photography NowArt, Self and KnowledgeArt/PornAs We AreAsylumAttitudeAutoportraitBecoming Edvard MunchBeg the QuestionBelugaBerkoBig Rabbit's Bad MoodBill HensonBlab!Blab! 13BLAB! Vol. 14BLAB! Vol. 15BlanketsBoneyardBoneyardBoy StoriesBreakdownsBright EarthBrüselBurn, Bitchy, BurnBus OdysseyBut Is It Art?CanvasCaricatureChildrenChris VereneChristy ReportCinema PanopticumClass PicturesClick DoubleclickCloserClumsyClyde Fans CoincidencesComing of AgeComing of Age in Ancient GreeceConceptual Art and PaintingConfessions of a Cereal EaterConsider LoveCouch FictionCrumpleCzech EdenCzech Photographic Avant-Garde, 1918-1948Dan & LarryDargerDays With My FatherDead EndDear MomDeus Ex MachinaDigital DiariesDirty StoriesDisasters of WarDixie RoadDomestic VacationsDon't Go Where I Can't FollowDon't You Feel BetterDr. Jekyll & Mr. HydeDrawingsDriftlessEcstasyEdouard VuillardEnduring CreationEngland, My EnglandEntering GermanyEpilepticErwin OlafEscape from "Special"EVAEverything Will DisappearEvidenceExploring the Self through PhotographyExposureExpressionism Exquisite CorpseFamilyFamilyFamily LifeFandomaniaFaster than a Speeding BulletFictionsFigure and GroundFragile DVDFred the ClownFreud at WorkFridaFrom Girls to GrrlzFun HomeGeneration DadaGirl CultureGirls, Some Boys and Other CookiesGoing Into TownGood-ByeGraphic WomenGrave MattersH R GigerHans BellmerHappy Halloween, Li'L SantaHauntedHere Is New YorkHey, Wait...High Art LiteHollywood CowboyHouse of JavaI Am Not This BodyI Love You But I've Chosen RockI Thought I Could FlyI'll Be Your MirrorI'm CrazyIllumineIn My Darkest HourIn Search Of DignityIn the Floyd ArchivesIn the Line of DutyInformation ArtsIntenseInvisible No MoreIt Was A Dark And Silly NightJack Cole and Plastic ManJimmy CorriganJock SturgesJock SturgesJust Between UsKafkaKatharina SieverdingLacan at the SceneLaura Numeroff's 10-Step Guide to Living with Your MonsterLife's a BitchLight in the Dark RoomLine of Beauty and GraceListening to CementLittle LitLi’l SantaLoadsLooking For MayaLost GirlLouis FaurerLouise BourgeoisLove and DesireLove Lust DesireLuckyManufactured LandscapesMass ObservationMaster BreastsMetacreationMisty DawnMnemosyneMomeMona KuhnMy Brain is Hanging Upside DownMy DepressionMy Family AlbumNatural BeautiesNatural BeautyNerveNerveNew and Used BLAB!New York September 11Night FisherNightswimmingNo More ShavesNotes from a DefeatistNothing ObviousNothing to HideNudes and PortraitsOliviaOlivia Saves the CircusOn City StreetsOne EyeOnly a Promise of HappinessOptic NerveOptic Nerve #11Optic Nerve #9Outlaws, Rebels, Freethinkers & PiratesOutsider ArtPanic at Toad HallPatrolPaul M. SmithPeculiaPeekPeople Love PhotosPerfect ExamplePersepolisPhilosophersPhonesexPhoto ArtPhoto Icons I (1827-1926)Photographers, Writers, and the American ScenePhotography and LiteraturePhotography and PhilosophyPhotography and SciencePhotography and the USA Photography RebornPicturing DisabilityPlaytimePOPismPostmodernismPsychedelicQuestions without answersRaptors Raw YouthRay's a LaughRazmatazReclining NudeRed SnowRemembering GeorgyRequisite DistanceRineke DijkstraRippleRobert Doisneau 1912-1994Robert MaxwellRoom to PlaySame Difference & Other StoriesSanctumSatan's Sex BookSatellitesSchizophreniaSee Me Feel MeSelf-Taught and Outsider ArtSexSexual ArtSexyBookShadow ChamberSidewalk StoriesSkin DeepSleepwalkSmall FavorsSmile of the BuddhaSpectral EvidenceSpentSshhhh!Stranded in CantonStrange Stories for Strange Kids Stranger PassingStripped BareSummer BlondeSurrealismSymbols in ArtTestimonyThe Aesthetics of DisengagementThe AlcoholicThe Art InstinctThe Art of Adolf WolfliThe Art of MedicineThe BabiesThe Birthday RiotsThe Blue Day BookThe Blue NotebookThe BodyThe Body as ProtestThe Boulevard of Broken DreamsThe Breast BookThe Breathing FieldThe Bristol Board JungleThe Clouds AboveThe Devil and Daniel JohnstonThe Diary of a Teenage GirlThe Education of SophieThe Erotic Lives of WomenThe Face in the LensThe Illustrated Story of OThe Incantations of Daniel JohnstonThe Madonna of the FutureThe Mirror of LoveThe New Erotic PhotographyThe New LifeThe Other PlaceThe Philosophy of Andy WarholThe Places We LiveThe Psychology of Art and the Evolution of the Conscious BrainThe Push Man and Other StoriesThe Scar of VisibilityThe September 11 Photo ProjectThe Shiniest JewelThe Speed AbaterThe Steerage and Alfred StieglitzThe Story of Frog Belly Rat BoneThe Story of SexThe Stuff of LifeThe Three ParadoxesThe Transformations of GwenThe Transformations of GwenThe Transparent CityThe TravelersThe ValleyThe Van Gogh BluesThe Wolves in the WallsThe Yellow HouseThinThings as They AreThinking of YouTierney GearonTime and SilenceTina's MouthTits, Ass, and Real EstateTransitionTrauma and Documentary Photography of the FSATravelersTropical BlendTwentieth Century EightballTwilightUnlikelyVagina WarriorsVernacular VisionariesVietnam At PeaceVisual CultureVitamin PhWar Is Only Half the StoryWhat Are You Looking At?What Art IsWhat Good Are the Arts?What Remains: The Life and Work of Sally MannWho Am I, What Am I, Where Am I?William KentridgeWillie DohertyWithWriters on ArtistsYoung PhotographerZip Zip My Brain Harts

Related Topics
PostmodernismReview - Postmodernism
Movements in Modern Art
by Eleanor Heartney
Cambridge University Press, 2001
Review by Christian Perring, Ph.D.
May 10th 2001 (Volume 5, Issue 19)

This excellent little book (80 pages, many filled with images) explains postmodernist art by setting out five movements: neo-expressionism, anti-aesthetes, commodity critics, postmodern feminism, and postmodern multiculturalism. The color paintings and photographs used as examples of artists' work are well-chosen, and the reproductions are of reasonable quality. The art is mostly from the last two decades of the twentieth century, and includes Baselitz, Kiefer, Basquiat, Longo, Koons, Kruger, Sherman, Mapplethorpe, and Gilbert & George.

We tend to think of expressionism and surrealism as the forms of art that more directly depict abnormal or extreme mental states such as despair, madness, perversion, and ecstasy. They are more personal statements of emotion, often cherished by people who are familiar with the experiences the art aims to express. The artists in these forms often are famous for their emotional problems and eccentricities (e.g., Rothko, Pollock, Dali) and the art is often thought to provide insight into the nature of mental illness. At their most radical, both expressionism and surrealism emphasize the value of passion and go hand-in-hand with one of the hallmarks of romanticism, that at the heart of genius lies madness, and that to be healthy requires at least a little neuroticism.

Postmodern art tends to be less overtly passionate, but nevertheless it has an obvious relevance to psychology and mental health, because it addresses issues of identity, normality, and the relation between individuals and society. By its very nature, it questions the separation of art from the rest of life, and is intent on breaking down boundaries between aesthetic approaches and other ways of understanding our lives. It is especially prone to political statements because it aims to destabilize conventional ways of understanding the world. In the end, postmodernism is more radical than expressionism and surrealism, because it leads to the questioning of the very categories of sanity and madness.

To be more specific, postmodernism is famous for its skepticism towards the idea of authorship and originality, and the ideal of individual autonomy through the exercise of cognitive skills and emotional self-control, which is central to our understanding of mental health. The postmodern condition, often associated with living in the media-age in a world where we are bombarded by messages, advertisements, and images, is at its simplest one of confusion, where rationality has broken down and language has ceased to function as a means of genuine communication, and is at most a means of manipulation. Often postmodern art is ironic, self-consciously clever, and apparently glib: it seems to have given up on the idea of communicating emotion, making a personal statement, or exploring the self, and instead prefers to take pleasure in annoying or perplexing the viewer through being uninterpretable, or resorts to taking pleasure in humor, bright colors, shiny surfaces, and even the excesses of consumerism. To the extent that such art can be interpreted, it seems to be making statements only about the possibility of art, rather than attempting to provide insight into life.

But Eleanor Heartney shows clearly how much postmodern art goes beyond such self-pleasuring silliness, and manages to pose serious questions about our society. It is preoccupied with the implications of mechanical reproduction, the effect of popular culture on our appreciation of the world, and the assumptions within mainstream art about sexuality, gender and race. Although her approach is obviously not exhaustive, she covers a surprising amount of ground while remaining sensitive to the philosophical sources of these approaches. Of course, in such a short book, her approach is inevitably simplistic, and there are plenty of worthy artists whom she does not mention. One important theoretical issue she barely touches on is how the artists in the book might decline to be classified as postmodernists, and how the labels we give different kinds of art are often not very useful.

Nevertheless, her writing is extremely clear and she manages to explain works of art which previously might just have seemed bizarre. So this Postmodernism is a great starting place for anyone wanting to understand the latest developments in the world of art. While there are few direct connections between postmodern art and postmodern ways of thinking about mental illness, there are similarities. Maybe the most productive connection is not in any particular shared belief, but rather in the stance or attitude that postmodernists take towards the world, and by getting a feel for this in art, one might get a better understanding for how it can be applied to mental health.

© 2001 Christian Perring


Share

Welcome to MHN's unique book review site Metapsychology. We feature over 7900 in-depth reviews of a wide range of books and DVDs written by our reviewers from many backgrounds and perspectives. We update our front page weekly and add more than thirty new reviews each month. Our editor is Christian Perring, PhD. To contact him, use one of the forms available here.

Can't remember our URL? Access our reviews directly via 'metapsychology.net'


Metapsychology Online reviewers normally receive gratis review copies of the items they review.
Metapsychology Online receives a commission from Amazon.com for purchases through this site, which helps us send review copies to reviewers. Please support us by making your Amazon.com purchases through our Amazon links. We thank you for your support!


Join our e-mail list!: Metapsychology New Review Announcements: Sent out monthly, these announcements list our recent reviews. To subscribe, click here.

Interested in becoming a book reviewer for Metapsychology? Currently, we especially need thoughtful reviewers for books in fiction, self-help and popular psychology. To apply, write to our editor.

Metapsychology Online Reviews

Promote your Page too

Metapsychology Online Reviews
ISSN 1931-5716