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Madness and Creativity

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

One of my very favorite blogs is the Bethlem Blog. The Bethlem Royal Hospital Archives and Museum is a place I could get lost in all day long.

Bethlem had a Criminal Lunatics Department. You'll be fascinated with stories about patients like, Richard Dadd and Henry Hudson. You can learn even more about Art and Madness if reading Maureen Park's book of the same title. "Art in Madness looks at the contribution of Dr William Alexander Francis Browne (1805-1885) to the development of psychiatry in 19th century Scotland."

Bethlem Arts

Art has provided a creative outlet for patients through the centuries. Today art continues to do the same in psychiatric hospitals all over the world.

What do you think the connection is between the world of art and mental illness? Next week I think I'll look at writers and mental illness but for this blog post I'm going to stick to the artists like Van Gogh.

And then there is the famous painting by Edvard Munch: The Scream. Ever felt like this? I think there is a strong connection to artits trying to make sense of their own personal worlds and coming to grips with their own personal demons in many circumstances. Art may calm or cleanse the artist in the same way that those of us who journal get our thoughts down on paper. Maybe it's a form of better out than in. What's your thoughts on this?
Van Gogh Painting
About four years before Blakelock's death, Harrison Smith, then a young reporter with the New York Tribune, was informed of Blakelock's whereabouts and went to see Blakelock in the asylum. He found him largely lucid, although under the delusion that an imagined "diamond of the Emperor of Brazil" had been stolen from him.                    
Beyond Madness
The Art of Ralph Blakelock, 1847-1919
Norman A. Geske
Foreword by Peter H. Hassrick                                              



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