History of Art Healing
Posted by gninja on January 10, 2008
While I recover from a pretty nasty cold…
(Jan van Eyck’s Madonna with Canon van der Paele, 1436)
It occurs to me that, when sick, I’d probably most like to be in a room filled with Jan van Eycks (paintings; not the guy) and other early Netherlandish paintings. It could also depend on the season. I don’t much feel like looking at early Netherlandish stuff when the weather’s warm.
In any case, in my sickly leisure (boredom?) I was trying to think of any art history studies that have been done on art therapy. From just a quick glance, I gathered that the literature on art therpay in the “sciences” is vast. A search for those keywords on Columbia’s Libary Catalogue turned up 616 hits, and each one I clicked on was listed in a health sciences, sociology, or medical collection. There’s even an American Art Therapy Association. JSTOR turned up about the same kind of results when I searched various combinations of “art” and therapy- or healing-related terms. Looking through David Freedberg’s Power of Images, I found no section on art as curative. This is all just to say that an art *history* study of the therapeutic role of art in X time period or X culture would be interesting. I’m sure it’s been done.