Unconscious and Modern Painting
Extract of a conference by Alfred-George REGNER Boulogne sur Mer, January 1950. Location of conference at City Hall.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Do I have to explain why, in the title of my talk, I have associated
modern painting and the subconscious? Even though this does not seem
necessary, it might be wise to elaborate..
Painters from all periods have been a loyal mirror to the major
preoccupations and most important discoveries of their contemporaries,
often participating themselves in the research and having their hand in
it. Living painters, to my knowledge, still follow that path.
In the intellectual world, the most important recent discovery is the
invention of psychoanalysis by FREUD. As in the Renaissance, science's
first faltering attempts were the big torment of mankind.
The codification of perspective must have been something fascinating
for the knowledgeable painters of the 15th century. Paolo UCCELLO must
have experienced great joy in drawing the first accurate receding
lines. In another realm of ideas, Leonardo de VINCI must have had great
pleasure in dissecting and pinpointing by drawing the interior of the
human body. Yes, these great painters really lived and worked at the
pinnacle of the knowledge of their time period to be able to understand
it enough to transmit to us that image so faithfully.
A real painter must avoid putting his step in the step of those that
came before him. Nothing sensational remains to be discovered in
perspective and anatomy. To interest oneself in these sciences only
shows that the interested party has a certain nostalgia for the past,
symbol of a happy childhood that many men seek to hold onto, to relive,
by fear of life.
The subconscious is today, and for a longtime to come, the unknown
territory that those who seek must explore. Painters must not fail
their mission. The subconscious must exalt them.
For this undertaking, knowledge of the psychology of the human psyche
is indispensable. It is the key to the right pathway, the key that
opens ourselves in the most profound way, and it is the key that allows
us to know ourselves and to know others.
The exploration of the soul by psychoanalysis informs the why of a
vocation and, in particular, on the why of an artistic vocation.