Art, Death and Lacanian Psychoanalysis examines the relationship between art and death from the perspective of Lacanian psychoanalysis. It takes a unique approach to the topic by making explicit reference to the death drive as manifest in theories of art and in artworks.
Freud’s treatment of death focuses not on the moment of biological extinction but on the recurrent moments in life which he called “the death drive” or the “compulsion to repeat”: the return precisely of what is most unbearable for the subject. Surprisingly, in some of its manifestations, this painful repetition turns out to be invigorating. It is this invigorating repetition that is the main concern of this book, which demonstrates the presence of its manifestations in painting and literature and in the theoretical discourse concerning them from the dawn of Western culture to the present.
After unfolding the psychoanalytical and philosophical underpinnings for the return of the death drive as invigorating repetition in the sphere of the arts, the authors examine various aspects of this repetition through the works of Gerhard Richter, Jeff Wall, and contemporary Israeli artists Deganit Berest and Yitzhak Livneh, as well as through the writings of Virginia Woolf and James Joyce.
First to articulate the stimulating aspect of the death drive in its relation to the arts and the conception of art as a varied repetition beyond a limit, Art, Death and Lacanian Psychoanalysis will be indispensable to psychoanalysts, scholars of art theory and aesthetics and those studying at the intersection of art and psychoanalysis.