art history and psychoanalysis_poster-1

A collaboration between the Centre for Psychoanalytic Studies and the School of Philosophy and Art History at the University of Essex.

  • FIRST WORKSHOP:  Friday 3 May, 2013, University of Essex (Colchester). Keynote: Professor Margaret Iversen (School of Philosophy and Art History, University of Essex).
  • SECOND WORKSHOP:  Saturday 8 June, 2013, UCL (London). Keynote: Professor Janet Sayers (Emeritus Professor of Psychoanalytic Psychology, Psychology Department, University of Kent)
  • THIRD WORKSHOP:  Friday 28 June, 2013, University of Essex (Colchester). Keynote: Dr. David Hulks (Lecturer, Colchester School of Art; Associate Fellow, School of World Art Studies, University of East Anglia)

Interdisciplinary crossovers between art history and psychoanalysis have a long, rich and productive history. Since Freud, many analysts have incorporated the study of visual art into their work, and art historians and theorists frequently incorporate concepts, methods and frameworks from psychoanalysis into theirs. However, while there can be no doubt that these exchanges have been incredibly fruitful, they also throw up significant methodological issues. What happens when ideas migrate from the analytic context into an artistic one and back again? What differences are there between the analytic situation and the artistic context? How can we incorporate modes of artistic experience into psychoanalytic frameworks? Do psychoanalytic concepts sometimes get lost in translation?

Despite the sheer volume of studies which have encountered these issues, it is rare that analysts and art historians come together to discuss them. This series aims to fill this gap by bringing together lecturers, practitioners and postgraduates from both disciplines who are interested in thinking around this divide. The events will be practical workshops, focussed around methodological questions in current research. Each session will include a number of short presentations (around 10 minutes) from researchers who are currently dealing with issues in either the use of visual art in the psychoanalytic context or the use of psychoanalysis in art history/theory. Rather than presenting the results of research, each presentation should open up a question for discussion, providing an opportunity to consider methodological issues with a larger group and to share skills and ideas between disciplines. Possible issues include, but are not limited to:

  • The migration of concepts from psychoanalysis into the study of visual art.
  • The study of artists who are themselves influenced by psychoanalysis.
  • Similarities/differences between art and the analytic situation.
  • The role of the object in psychoanalytic studies of visual art.
  • The role of the viewer in psychoanalytic studies of visual art.
  • Combining psychoanalytic ideas with other forms of interpretation.
  • Psychoanalysis and the artist-viewer relationship.
  • The role of aesthetic experience in psychoanalysis.
  • The critique of particular studies which explore artworks psychoanalytically.
  • The psychoanalytic interpretation of technical processes of artistic production.
  • The relation between visual art and unconscious phantasy (Kleinian) or fantasy (Lacan,


  • The use of psychoanalytic ideas/thinkers that have generally been overlooked in art history (e.g. Bion, Winnicott, Laplanche, Milner).

For more information, please contact organisers David Hodge, Natasha Adamou and Matt ffytche at artandpsychoanalysis@essex.ac.uk

The Workshops are generously sponsored by the Centre for Psychoanalytic Studies and the School of Philosophy and Art History at the University of Essex. 

3 thoughts on “HOME

  1. Janet Sayers

    Having been immersed for several years in writing a biography of the psychoanalytically-minded art writer, Adrian Stokes (1902-1972), I was very interested to see your announcement of workshops on psychoanalysis and art history. I would be happy to contribute a paper contrasting Stokes’s non-historical psychoanalytic approach to the art of Michelangelo and historical and psychoanalytic approach to the art of Turner. If this might be of interest let me know and I will submit an abstract.

    1. David Hulks

      Hello Janet. Are we both doing the Tate’s Art Writers event in May? Your suggestion here sounds very interesting. I wonder what you mean by ‘non-historical’, presumably anti-iconological? Best wishes …

  2. Urs Patyk (Dr.)

    I am very much interested in your workshop, but I am stationed in Ghana, West Africa, so it will be impossible to join your workshop. However, in my PhD., available at GOOGLE, I used some psychoanalytic material. So if you are interested in a paper from my side, regarding one of your topics, let me know. Please stay in touch.
    Best regards


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s