Anxiety, Depression, and Mental Illness in Fine Art

At times, we all wonder about our mental health.  When I see someone who is obviously struggling with life and sanity, I think:  There but by the grace of God go I.  Perhaps that is why I relate to illustration and fine art that graphically displays the fragile nature of our psyche.

While not directly related to mental health, I’ve always enjoyed the work of M.C. Escher.  His “Rind” illustrates how I occasionally feel; like my sanity is slowly unwinding and my ability to function in society is becoming depressingly impaired.

M.C. Escher’s “Rind”

And when life is oppressively overwhelming, don’t we all just need a primal scream.  And Edvard Munch’s “The Scream of Nature” illustrates perfectly this necessity.

Edvard Munch’s “The Scream”

Francisco Goya in his latter years, descended into madness.  His “Black Paintings” that covered his house graphically display his horrific nightmares.  His end-of-life paintings were eventually transferred from the walls of his house to a room in the Madrid’s Prado, where they remain one of the museum’s most popular draw.  Perhaps the work below is a precursor to his darker paintings.

Francisco Goya’s Concept of Madness

Vincent Van Gogh had a rough time relating to life.  He cut off his own ear and eventually committed suicide (although this conclusion is in dispute).  But there is no arguing that life tortured him.  And this extreme anxiety had a great impact on his creative work.  He obviously felt a strong connection to the suffering of the gentleman below.

Vincent Van Gogh’s “Old Man in Sorrow”

I love art, and have visited many of the world’s great museums, several multiple times.  Art can affect us in many ways.  Having empathy for the suffering of others is important to our own emotional well being.  Understanding that our own lives have ups and downs is also important.  Life isn’t all happiness.

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One Response to Anxiety, Depression, and Mental Illness in Fine Art

  1. Very interesting post! I recently read a quote by M. C. Escher (I’ve always loved his work) and it was basically like he talking about anxiety dreams.

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