SOME ARTISTS WERE MAD?

There are artists who paint what they see, others who paint what they remember or what they imagine. Our brain changes in the face of reality but, at the same time, it is capable of changing it: a "different" brain must therefore have a different relationship with reality.
In art this "process" can lead to the creation of new realities, which will only partly depend on "sensorial information"; our brain, in fact, does not necessarily need the continuous "information flow" coming from our senses. Dreams, memories that "revive" in mental images and also representations "simply" created by our mind testify to this event.
In this sense, art amplifies reality, creates a new "mental channel" capable of opening up to new experiences. The visual stimuli, real or evoked by memory, which excite the nervous system of the artist at the moment of the creation of the work of art, transformed by his hand into colors and shapes, will stimulate the nervous system of the observer. The work of art must be able to arouse in the observer's brain sensations and emotions that have been present in the artist's brain [Maffei L., Fiorentini A., 1995]. Approaching a work of art, looking at it, perceiving it, understanding it and appreciating it, implies the involvement of many brain structures and the activation of very specific mechanisms, starting from the functioning at the basis of visual perception, to those involved in the so-called "psychology of see ", in the aesthetic and emotional experience. This refers not only to the emotion felt by those who enjoy a painting but also to the creative moment that involves the artist to create his work.
Some researchers, especially psychologists and neurophysiologists, have been fascinated by the possibility of studying the properties and characteristics of the brain that are part of the evaluation of a work of art and the pleasure it can give; persuaded by the idea that the understanding of these cerebral mechanisms, together with the knowledge of the events of the life of an artist and of the culture of his time, can favor a greater "knowledge" and appreciation of the work and of those who created it.
A work of art is born from the combination of what the artist experiences "visually" and how he interprets what is communicated to him from the outside world. Both the acquisition of visual information and its internal processing can be altered by pathological causes.
The effects of serious mental illnesses, often altering the artist's perceptive and emotional abilities, can affect his pictorial expression and testify how the painter's life story becomes an integral part of his work.
All this emerges in the paintings of some great painters in particular moments of their life.
Francisco Goya (1746-1828) was suffering from an encephalopathy, due to lead poisoning (an element then present in the Francisco Goya, Detail "Cronus devours his children" Madrid, Prado Museum of pigments of various colors), which caused him deafness and personality alteration. At first his illness hindered him in all activities and was the cause of a deep depression; nightmare figures populated his paintings when he began to paint again.
The depression that afflicted Michelangelo (1475-1564) was of psychic origin. In painting the face of St. Bartholomew while showing the knife to the Judge, the artist brought a painful self-portrait into the folds of the skin of martyrdom Michelangelo Buonarroti, Particular "Last Judgment" Rome, Sistine Chapel. The perceptual, emotional and expressive systems of other great painters have been, more dramatically, altered by severe mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia and manic-depressive syndrome.
Gruesser et al., (1988) described the abnormal perception of faces as a particular disorder characteristic of schizophrenic patients. The faces observed by these patients could quickly change their expression, assuming more and more the appearance of a monster: the mouth opened highlighting the protruding canines, the nose and eyes became larger, the pupils dilated. Some drawings or paintings reported by patients with schizophrenia highlight this particular characteristic and show, while communicating the suffering and perceptual distortions of this terrible disease, how "madness" can, in some cases, suggest a "brilliant" artistic creativity.
Deformations of the faces, anxious and frightened faces, obsessive expressions seem to reach the limits of pathology in the painter James Ensor (1860-1949). The artist's canvases begin to be populated with bizarre figures until they reach the apotheosis of James Ensor, "Christ's Entry into Brussels" Malibu, Getty Museums overcrowding in what is considered his masterpiece: Christ's Entry into Brussels .
The strange figures in the painting may seem the result of hallucinatory visions but, at the same time, they draw on a supernatural reality; the mask with the rice takes on an ambivalent value because its use allows, through transvestism, to modify what is hidden behind it.

Once again the boundaries of pathology, such as those between "reality" and "hallucination", become blurred and painfully distinguishable.

And then other mad artist like:

The depression of Monet, and De Chirico.
Modigliani's alcoholism,
Rousseau's masochism,
Schiele's pedophile tendencies.
The paranoid critical method of Dalì, exhibitionist and histrionic, who proudly claimed: "The only difference between me and a madman is that I am not mad".

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