“Images de l’Inconscient”

Halle Saint-Pierre

Although “Images de l’Inconscient” presented 181 works by six artist-patients from the collection of the Museu de Imagens do Inconsciente in Rio de Janeiro, this exhibition paid homage to the work of its founder, Dr. Nise da Silveira (1905–1999)—a devout admirer of Carl Gustav Jung—who might be called an “incurable” psychological materialist. Following in the footsteps of Hans Prinzhorn, author of the groundbreaking 1922 study Bilderei der Geisteskranken (Artistry of the Mentally Ill), and of Jean Dubuffet, she perceived the works of her patients to be “self-portraits of psychological situations,” but also medical charts that, although they might be seen as mapping extreme cases, provided an insight into the border between illness and self-expression. Da Silveira’s activities may, in fact, be viewed as a practical application of Antonin Artaud’s conception of art as action. In 1946, she

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