Dallas Group Analytic Practice

Bob Bennett, MD,CGP,FAPA    Melissa Black, PhD,CGP
Dale C. Godby, PhD,CGP,ABPP
     Myrna Little, PhD,CGP
Scott Nelson, PhD, CGP

  6330 LBJ Fwy, Suite 150, Dallas, TX 75240
972-392-4155

 Published in DSPP Bulletin, Volume XVII, Number 8, 2001

SCULPTURE & PSYCHOTHERAPY

Dale C. Godby, Ph.D.

Visit the Henry Moore Exhibit at the DMA

Sculpture is the creation of solid forms which give aesthetic pleasure.

Herbert Read (in Kosinski, p. 22)

Aesthetic pleasure awaits you in the form of the Henry Moore exhibit at the Dallas Museum of Art. Henry Moore: Sculpting the 20th Century is on exhibit until May 27, 2001, after which it will move to San Francisco and then on to Washington, D.C. Don't miss the outside exhibit of some of Moore's larger works which are on display in the sculpture garden.

Moore said his work is organized around three recurring themes, which will surely interest all psychoanalytic psychotherapists: 'the "Mother and child" idea, the "Reclining figure" and the "Interior/Exterior forms"' (Allemand, p.10). Senie writes, in Kosinski's fine catalogue of the exhibit, that there is an implicit intimacy in Moore's work that is both seductive and comforting (Kosinski, p.284).  Kosinski refers to the often-quoted account of Moore massaging his mother's back as a young boy and believes his sculpture communicates the tactile and symbolic significance of that remembered moment of intimacy. She suggests this as a source of a repressed sensuality that lurks in all of his work (Kosinski, p.28).  The exhibit is evocative of the intimacy and sensuality that is part of our daily practice.

After seeing the exhibit, I recalled Freud's remarks about sculpture in his article "On Psychotherapy" (1905 p. 260). Quoting from Leonardo da Vinci, he said the painter adds to his work (as in the suggestive technique of hypnosis), whereas the sculptor (like the analyst) adds nothing new, but takes away in order to achieve his final result. I began to wonder how Moore considered his work as a sculptor and if there were further parallels with psychotherapy.

With a warning that is as apt for the therapist as the artist. Moore said, "It is a mistake for a sculptor to speak or write very often about his job. It releases tension needed for the work. By trying to express his aims with rounded-off logical exactness, he can easily become a theorist whose actual work is only a caged-in exposition of the conceptions evolved in terms of logic and words...." (Allemand, p. 60). I wouldn't use this when the next "care manager" calls, but it illuminates something important about our work.

Moore spoke elsewhere of sculpting in a way we all will recognize, "To me carving direct became a religion and I have practiced it during my career as sculptor. I liked the fact that you begin with the block and have to find the sculpture that is inside. You have to overcome the resistance of the material by sheer determination and hard work" (Allemand, p. 92).

As psychoanalytic psychotherapists we must regularly think of the relationship of the part to the whole. Moore observed that great artists had a monumental sense, "Perhaps it is because they don't allow detail to become important in itself: that is they always keep the big things in their proper relationship and detail is always subservient" (Hedgecoe, p. 16).

And finally Moore saw his art, like we do ours, as containing multiple meanings and mystery. "Sculpture should always at first sight have some obscurities, and further meanings. People should want to go on looking and thinking; it should never tell all about itself immediately....In fact all art should have some more mystery and meaning to it than is apparent to a quick observer" (Allemand, p. 180).

So go to the exhibit, enjoy the intimacy and mystery of Moore's work for the sure aesthetic pleasure it will bring. The experience of beauty can only help to deepen and sustain our work.

REFERENCES

Allemand-Casneau, C., Fath, M., and Mitchinson, D. (Eds). (1996). Henry Moore: From the inside out, plasters, carvings and drawings. Munich & New York: Prestel.

Freud, S. (1905). On psychotherapy. Standard Edition, Volume VII, p. 260.

Hedgecoe, J. (1998). A monumental vision: The sculpture of Henry Moore. New York: Stewart, Tabori, & Chang.

Kosinski, D. (2001). Henry Moore: Sculpting the 20th Century. New Haven and London: Yale University Press.

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