Art and mental illness
April 14, 2004 1:51 PM   Subscribe

Art & Psychosis Some have suggested that there is a link between creativity and mental illness (MI), and others equivocate a little. One way or another, whether called Outsider, Transgressive or... (?) art is art and it seems the art from this community has greater potential (IMO) from an emotional standpoint then the majority that comes out of art school. One last link
posted by edgeways (12 comments total)
I've always felt that being an artist has more to do with one's way of thinking than one's skill in any particular medium. Naturally, psychotic people are more likely to posess unique ways of thought than the rest of the population. Hence, the correlation between mental illness and impressive art works.
posted by garethspor at 2:14 PM on April 14, 2004

"we're all mad here" - Alice in Wonderland
posted by stbalbach at 2:22 PM on April 14, 2004

I think it's bogus to try to empirically prove the artistic advantage of the mentally ill (including the depressed). The mentally ill can have interesting things to say because they're in a different place, sometimes on the outside of life looking in. But I find that people who spend a lot of time thinking about this are the same people who spend a lot of time thinking about "What Art Is" in the first place and "Which Art is the Best Art," both of which are foolish masturbations of the creative layperson, IMO.
posted by scarabic at 2:24 PM on April 14, 2004

foolish masturbations of the creative layperson

Or, if you're an academic, your job, I suppose.
posted by scarabic at 2:25 PM on April 14, 2004

Sing Along Everybody!
"We're all here because we're not all there..."
posted by wendell at 2:32 PM on April 14, 2004

Not just art.
posted by Gyan at 3:37 PM on April 14, 2004

I don't know. I am skeptical of the whole notion of prizing the 'untrained eye' over the 'trained' eye, as if going to school or getting formal training in art takes away any from artistic merit.

Also, from the first link.

This is the picture of a young woman who painted the two faces of her father. The left side means that she was chased by the sexual drive of her father. At this side cocks and suns (both paternal symbols) appear among sinister arabesques coming out of her head. In the right side, peaceful, father's torment has been repressed.

I am asking this seriously - Is this satire?
posted by Quartermass at 4:19 PM on April 14, 2004

you dont need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows
posted by Satapher at 4:22 PM on April 14, 2004

if you ain't working 9 to 5 youre fucking SICK
posted by Satapher at 4:23 PM on April 14, 2004

Quartermass: as if going to school or getting formal training in art takes away any from artistic merit.

Depends on what the training entails. If you are simply being taught some mechanistic skills alongwith some very basic aesthetic rules, then maybe it doesn't affect that much. But if your instructor is one who has a habit of mixing up opinions of style and content, then depending on how young and/or how good your critical thinking skills are, you may end up getting indelibly influenced.
posted by Gyan at 4:42 PM on April 14, 2004

True art can be either of two accomplishments: the truly novel, the easier of the two, is "today" filtered through a unique lens by the artist. It exists only so long as either its novelty and originality continue, or until the times change. The more difficult is talent plus learned skill plus years of practice, all coming together in a great masterwork.
On top of that is the principal that art passes through cycles, beginning with popular simplistic minimalism which grows ever more complex until only other artists can appreciate it--only to be replaced by a new, again simplistic minimalism that is very accessible to the public.

The best way to examine this is by looking at the performance of our societies' most public artists: musicians.
You see novelty in the "one hit wonders", but very few can follow-up with continued novelty, usually just being derivative of their one hit. These few survive until "the next big thing" comes along.

The other artists are the "real" musicians, who continue to crank out new but unexciting music for twenty or thirty years. They are professionals who entertain more by style and demonstration of skill than by fashion. Their fans care more about the performance of the music than the music itself. They are rarely part of the "fashion" scene.

Ironically, right now, there is an upsurge of the latter group in popular music, especially serious pianists and vocalists. But they will soon be displaced by the next novelty act.
posted by kablam at 4:50 PM on April 14, 2004

kablam, a cycle is to be expected. Although I think it is "complex" works getting transformed into simpler ones. Novel art transfers rare metaphors and perceptive patterns onto the medium. The untrained (or rather, uninitiated) observer seeks to stereotype these new works into established contemporary metaphors and patterns, the aware observer doesn't. Once these novel artworks become common, their metaphors get added to the public memory and cognition, rendering their artistic value to that of a historic footnote. But artistic progress depends on these novel artworks.
posted by Gyan at 5:04 PM on April 14, 2004

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