Monthly Archives: August 2021

Creativity From Dark Places

Black Trees, Series 3, No. 5

Do you know the painter Edvard Munch?  He is well known for a painting called The Scream.  If it doesn’t sound familiar, look it up online.  Everyone has seen it, I’m sure you have too.

I heard a story somewhere that Munch was suffering from some kind of malady in the nature of depression or anxiety when he painted that painting.  As I understand it, he became better through treatment, but never painted in quite the same way again.

I have no idea if the story is true or if I have told it correctly.  But it does serve to illustrate a point.  There is a perception that creativity and disorders in the nature of depression and anxiety are linked, i.e., that periods of depression and anxiety are correlated to highly creative output.

Sadly, I think this may be true.  I recently was engaged in a creative effort in another medium (not photography), and someone commented that the work I was producing was among the best I had done.  This coming during an uptick of depression and anxiety in my life.

Maybe artistic endeavors are a catharsis, and maybe the catharsis is intensified when there are underlying negative emotions seeking to be let out.  If so, then I suppose it follows that art really is a healing medium, capable of transforming the ill into the good.  But the ugly twist would seem to be that the worse that the ill is, the better the good.

Or maybe I just have it all wrong, and the myth of the anguished artist really is just a myth.

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