In this paper an investigation into the psychoanalytic concept of melancholia in relation to the melancholia in the Pittura Metafisica of Giorgio de Chirico (Késenne, 2012) is briefly presented. Special attention is paid to the qualitative research methodology that was developed for this purpose. This interdisciplinary method implies: i) the analysis of two different discourses (the psychoanalytic discourse with respect to a given syndrome and the art-critical reception of a plastic oeuvre); and ii) the comparison of these discourses using an interdisciplinary connotation scheme. It is concluded that this method provides an alternative to the classic psychobiographical approach to the arts.
Starting from a critical reading of Freud’s essay A Childhood Memory of Leonardo da Vinci, the author tries to assess whether it is still valuable. The historical debate between Schapiro and Eissler as well as to the more recent work of Maïdani Gerard and Collins is discussed. It appears that the central element of Freud’s psychobiographical contribution, i.e., the interpretation of Leonardo’s affective indifference and his inhibition in his artistic creation by his latent homosexuality, has found more support in recent biographical and iconographical research. More specifically, it is argued that Freud’s intuitions, both with respect to the circumstances of Leonardo’s early childhood, and to the uniqueness of his St. Anne with Two Others, have finally been accepted.
Starting from the biography and evolution of the art of Belgian artist Pierre Alechinsky, a psychobiographical hypothesis is formulated concerning an important shift in the artist’s work, namely, his choosing to combine painting with calligraphy and writing. This “choice” was made when the artist found himself in an artistic impasse. It is shown how the signifier “graph” appears over and over again in his artistic evolution and apparently functions as a master signifier. Based on biographical material from his childhood, it is argued that the left-handed Alechinsky, in choosing calligraphic painting, was able to circumvent the Oedipal threat and, in so doing, could identify himself with the desire of his mother who, not coincidentally, was a graphologist.
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