Students of depth psychology the world over know of the fundamental contributions made to the discipline by the Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Carl Gustav Jung. Second only to his colleague Sigmund Freud in terms of name recognition, Jung’s work on archetypes and symbols gave rise to a tradition of analytic psychology that has inspired thousands of disciples, including the comparative mythologist Joseph Campbell. A fascinating new exhibition at UCSB’s Art, Design, & Architecture Museum called The Illuminated Imagination: The Art of C.G. Jung, on display now through April 28, demonstrates that, in addition to seeing patients, giving seminars, and writing books on psychology, Jung expended an extraordinary amount of his time and energy creating a remarkable oeuvre of visual art in multiple media including painting, sculpture, illuminated manuscript, and even architecture. His restless imagination and determined pursuit of personal wholeness through individuation yielded a wild and complex legacy that is only now being fully appreciated.
Pride of place in Jung’s artistic output must go to the The Red Book, an illuminated manuscript that the psychologist hand-lettered and illustrated in bright colors between 1915 and 1930. Drawing extensively not only on his dreams, but also on the waking visions that began troubling him shortly before the outbreak of the First World War, Jung created a massive tome that, in both style and method, bears a striking resemblance to classic manuscript masterpieces from the medieval period. The actual Red Book lay open in a sealed display case at the head of the exhibit’s main gallery space, while on the wall across from it, large and colorful reproductions of particularly interesting pages offer visitors a chance to see what’s inside the covers. More than an elaborately conceived deliberate anachronism, The Red Boo reflects Jung’s commitment to artistic practice as a vehicle for attaining higher consciousness. Like the medieval monks who inspired him, Jung used the discipline of hand-lettering and painting to access a state of mind that might otherwise have been unavailable to him.
By Courtesy Photo