The birth of Venus. Odilon Redon. 1912. Musée du Petit Palais, Paris. The Birth of Venus. Odilon Redon. 1912. Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York.
SYMBOLISM AND THE UNCONSCIOUS
Throughout the ages, stories with certain basic themes have recurred over and over,
in widely disparate cultures; emerging like the goddess Venus from the sea of our unconscious.
Joan Vinge (b. 1948), writer
Odilon Redon was one of the outstanding artists of Symbolism, a multi-disciplinary arts movement, most active in the late nineteenth century. The Symbolist movement rejected naturalism and realism in favor of spirituality, the imagination and dreams. One related development during this time was the emergence of modern psychology.
The work of psychiatrists Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung was particularly influential to the Symbolists, providing ground-breaking insights into the interpretation of imaginative and dream material. Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) believed that repressed aggression and sexuality are at the root of human behavior. In his therapeutic practice, he explored dream material for insights into these unconscious drives and their effect on behavior. Carl G. Jung (1875-1961), a protege of Freud, disputed his mentor's premise of aggression and sexuality as the sole motivating forces behind human behavior. His areas of research broadened to include not only dream material, but art, mythology, religion and philosophy. His major contributions to the field of psychoanalysis are the Jungian archetypes and the concepts of synchronicity and the collective unconscious.