Mental Illness In Art Analysis

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Art reflects life: as society and its institutions change, art remains as a record of historical thoughts and practices. The way in which society views and treats those suffering with mental illness varies depending on the contemporary theory for its cause and its place among society. As man progressed from the superstitious dogma on mental illness surrounding the Medieval period, theories and cures towards mental illness increased in their analytic methods, though it certainly took centuries to overcome the stigma surrounding it. Albrecht Dürer’s Melancholia I (Figure 1), William Hogarth’s A Rake’s Progress: The Madhouse (Figure 2), and Vincent van Gogh’s Self Portrait with Bandaged Ear and Pipe (Figure 3) reflect their period’s treatment …show more content…
Although Dürer, Hogarth, and Van Gogh reflect different understandings of what mental illness, each portray stereotypical views of mental illness in their society and attempt to address proper treatment (or lack thereof) on the mentally …show more content…
Like in Dürer’s Melancholia I, the piece portrays a personal view of mental illness but unlike Dürer, who declared himself genius in his melancholy, van Gogh seeks in painting himself to disassociate himself with mental illness. Weeks earlier van Gogh had been hospitalized after a dispute between the post-impressionist painter Paul Gauguin and himself ended with van Gogh falling to delusion and cutting his left earlobe off; bleeding profusely, he collapsed in a pool of his own blood. While he recovered in the hospital, he fell into fits of hallucination that, once he had regained his senses, caused him guilt: “I find remorse, too,” he wrote to his brother Theo, “in thinking of the trouble that I’ve occasioned... however involuntarily it may

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