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340 Books 20-volume work entitled The North American Indian. The present book by Graybill (Curtis' daughter) and Boesen contains an informative and entertaining account of Curtis' life and experiences as well as texts written by Curtis while he was working at the various sites. At first Curtis' work was not well received by Fred Webb Hodge of the Smithsonian Institution and by other ethnologists and anthropologists, but later it was widely praised on both its ethnological and artistic merits. His recordings have proved to have basic value in the domain of American Indian languages. Legend, Myth, and Magic in the Image of the Artist: A Historical Experiment. Ernst Kris and Otto Kurz. Yale Univ. Press, London, 1979. 159 pp. £10.80. Reviewed by G. W. Granger' This book is the first English translation of the authors' Die Legende vom Kunstler, published in 1934. Their thesis is that, from the time when artists first made their appearance in historical records, certain stereotyped anecdotes and legends have been linked with their works and personality, preconceptions that still affect one's 'image of the artist'. Although the study is sociological, in that it deals with society's attitude to artists, their method is art-historical, and the selection of source material is based on a psychological assumption, namely, that 'biographical formulae' have their origin in certain invariant characteristics of the human mind. Unfortunately , the psychological ideas that provided the impetus for the research are hinted at aphoristically and infrequently, because Kris (art historian-turned-psychoanalyst) did not wish to commit Kurz beyond his chosen field of art history. For a fuller account of the psychoanalytic background, readers are obliged to read the chapter The Image of the Artist in Kris' Psychoanalytic Explorations in Art. The best example of a biographical formula is the tale of Giotto, the son of a poor peasant farmer, who drew superb pictures of the animals on a rock while tending his father's flock of sheep. By a happy coincidence, Cimabue happened to be passing, immediately detected the boy's marvellous talent and took him to Florence, where he rapidly blossomed into the great genius of Italian Renaissance art. Although the formula has undergone many variations since classical antiquity , social ascension and a child artist's miraculous gifts remain as basic themes of the 'legend of the artist'. According to Kris, Giotto-typed legends show a striking resemblance to sagas and myths, especially to those that have come to be known as 'myths of the birth of the hero' in psychoanalytic literature. Their parallels are to be found in the fantasy life of individuals and their origin in the conflicts inherent in family situations that give rise to 'family romance'. It was Freud who suggested that biographers frequently become 'attached' to their subjects in a strange manner and, in the process of idealizing (or debunking!) them, seek to enrol their biographical subjects among their infantile models. It is the 'ontogenetic model' of psychoanalytic analysis that Kris offers to art historians. Sad for me to relate, the authors not only fail to disclose the criteria employed for selecting their source material but also fail to provide adequate evidence for the existence of 'universal ' biographical formulae. What they have succeeded in doing is to make a suggestive case for biographical formulae of a variety of different kinds. But, perhaps, it is inappropriate to demand evidence from them for, despite the word experiment in the subtitle, they claim only to ask questions not to offer anything in the way of definitive answers. Moreover, they seem to imply that the problems they pose are incapable of solution. Accepting that it is not concerned with the 'art of the soluble', this concise and very readable book (prefaced by a well written tribute by Sir Ernst Gombrich to his former colleagues and old friends) should serve to stimulate art historians and sociologists in their attempts to develop testable ideas in this exceptionally difficult area of research. But they 'Dept. of Psychology, Science Laboratories, South Road, University of Durham, Durham DH1 3LE, England. would be well advised to think carefully before accepting Kris' offer of the 'ontogenetic model', for it now seems highly improbable...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1530-9282
Print ISSN
0024-094X
Pages
pp. 340-341
Launched on MUSE
2017-01-04
Open Access
No
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