Psychoanalysis & You is an APsA podcast about psychoanalysis and everyday life hosted by Dr. Gail Saltz.

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Show Notes

Does understanding an artist’s mind enhance our appreciation of their work?

Traditional art history stressed the importance of looking at works of art in isolation and discouraged ‘contaminating’ art with biographical data. But if you ask Dr. Adele Tutter, MD, PhD, it’s that biographical data that uncovers the significance of the art to its creator.

So, how can we use our training as psychoanalysts to better understand the creative process? And how might we use art as a tool to support our patients, whether or not they happen to be artists themselves?

Dr. Tutter is Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the Columbia University Vagelos School of Medicine and Director of the Psychoanalytic Studies Program in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. In her award-winning scholarship, Dr. Tutter explores the underpinnings of creativity and the relationship between the artist and their art, including the short stories of Raymond Carver, the photography of Francesca Woodman, and the fashion of Alexander McQueen.

On this episode of Psychoanalysis and You, Dr. Tutter joins host Dr. Gail Saltz to explain how understanding an artist’s mind helps us better understand their work.

Dr. Tutter discusses the therapeutic nature of making art, describing how artists use their work to process trauma and transform it into something beautiful.

Listen in for Dr. Tutter’s insight on treating creative people and learn how to use art as a vehicle to help patients talk about themselves.

Topics Covered

·      How Dr. Tutter’s curiosity leads her to the artists she chooses to write about

·      Dr. Tutter’s psychoanalytic approach to art history and how it differs from traditional methodology

·      Understanding an artist’s mind in order to understand their work (i.e.: Josef Sudek’s photographs of trees)

·      How our mind impacts the way we view a work of art

·      How their work can help an artist process their trauma and transform it into something beautiful

·      Surprising things Dr. Tutter has uncovered in analyzing artists and their work

·      How the themes or objects in an artist’s work have multiple meanings that change over time

·      The therapeutic nature of making art and why we should encourage it

·      Using a patient’s art or works they’ve seen as a vehicle to talk about themselves

·      Why creative people seek out Dr. Tutter and how that affects their treatment

·      How writing about artists and their grief helped Dr. Tutter process her own

·      Why Dr. Tutter shares more of her own experiences than most psychoanalysts


Connect with Dr. Tutter

Dr. Tutter at Columbia University

Dr. Tutter on LinkedIn

Books by Dr. Tutter

Research by Dr. Tutter

Connect with APsA 

The American Psychoanalytic Association

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The Glass House

Dream House: An Intimate Portrait of the Philip Johnson Glass House by Adele Tutter

Nicolas Poussin

Matamorphoses by Ovid

Francesca Woodman

Josef Sudek

‘Rough Crossings: The Cutting of Raymond Carver’ in The New Yorker

‘Set This House on Fire: The Self-Analysis of Raymond Carver’ in Psychoanalytic Quarterly

Alexander McQueen

Grief and Its Transcendence: Memory, Identity, Creativity edited by Adele Tutter and Leon Wurmser

Leos Janacek

APsA Staff