Origins Revisited

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Beyond the trash heaps of found objects, in a fee-fall away from traditional aesthetic conventions in the early years of the twentieth century, artists entered the precincts of the personal and collective unconscious that encompassed the primordial content of the ages.

“In the final count, every individual life is at the same time also the life of the eons of the species.” Psychological Reflections, page 41, C. G. Jung.

The “… inward turning descent and deconstruction of the self …” (Tarnas, blog #3) lead to the domain of the archetypes of the collective unconscious in those artists who were able to make the deepest and most significant descent. According to Depth Psychologist Erich Neumann in his Art and the Creative Unconscious, page 82, archetypes are: ” … intrinsically formless psychic structures which become visible in art.” Most of us live in unawareness of, are unconscious of, these interior, dynamic, aspects of our human nature that reside beneath the surface of our common preoccupations.

Freud’s theories of the subconscious, and Jung’s ideas about the personal and collective unconscious, provided artists with the clues to explore the shrouded domain on the other side of our daily somnambulism.

The advent of Surrealism in 1924 invited artists of the day to join Alice in a free-fall down the rabbit hole in a departure from the usual pursuits above ground that include the social protocols, conventions, and expectations associated with that state of living in the world. The Surrealist’s descent, like Alice’s, provided access to the dream world of paradox, irony, discontinuity, and the irrational, in non-linear encounters that are common to most dreamers.

In a deeper and more significant descent, British sculptor Henry More was able to give expression to his psychic alignment with the archetypal contents of the collective unconscious. Moore said: “All art has its roots in the primitive.” And: “A basic feature of modern art is its striving to get back to the archaic again, to the original source beyond our differentiated modern consciousness.”

Moore’s work provides us with the antidote to the nihilism, sardonic irony, and sense of futility that followed the deconstruction of modern aesthetic values that Dada represented. His innate disposition allowed him to respond to the creative call from the: “… primordial ground of creation where the secret key to all things lies hidden.” Klee, blog #4. In the basic theme that runs through Moore’s work, we are introduced to a transpersonal expression of the organic feminine principle as it is transformed into the earth archetype through the power of his art. It is upon this primordial ground of creation that our new aesthetic house will be built to contain the memories, dreams, and reflections of the past as viable perspectives from which to evolve cogent forms of renewal.