Representations of the Dreaming Mind in Nineteenth-Century French Art
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During the nineteenth century, philosophic and popular interest in dreams and the unconscious increased dramatically. Simultaneously, artists and writers increasingly recognized the immense creative impulses that resided within their dreams and began to explore ways in which dream elements, such as free-association, sensory mixing, and metamorphosis of form, could be incorporated into their artistic output, including visual art and literature. Dreams, due to their inherent irrationality, were at odds with the ideologies of the Enlightenment, a belief which remained fashionable during this time but whose popularity was beginning to wane. Artists of the emerging Romantic period, on the contrary, found the unconscious immensely appealing due to its ambiguity and irrational nature. This study seeks to explore the development of dream representation in art over the course of the nineteenth century, from a formulaic depiction to one which relied on a new kind of visual language steeped in personal emotive content used to express the artists’ intention. This goal is achieved by looking at the dream theories of Romantic and Enlightenment philosophers Arthur Schopenhauer, Eduard Von Hartmann, and Voltaire, popular culture theories of dream interpretation before Freud, identifying and analyzing the external forces that can influence one’s unconscious, including hashish, synesthesia, and memory, and finally, a visual comparison of a variety of artworks that illustrate the dream or include dream elements, including an in-depth look at French artists J.J. Grandville and Victor Hugo, who developed unique and innovative techniques for expressing their individual dream-content, and instrumental in the further exploration and development of dream-work.
Table of Contents
Introduction -- Irrationality and the Age of Reason: philosophical and popular perspectives of the dreaming mind -- Reality of the dream: elements of the dream and modes of perception -- Visualizing the unconscious: representation of the dream-state -- Conclusions
M.A. (Master of Arts)