Our presentation 'Jung, Dada, and the Discussion and Painting of Dreams', at the 41st annual conference of the International Association for the Study of Dreams, Kerkrade, The Netherlands. 11th June 2024
Jung, Dada, and the Discussion and Painting of Dreams
Julia Lockheart 1 , Mark Blagrove 2, Mayara Ribeiro Guimarães 3,
Sofia Guimaraes von Ridder and Art Funkhouser 4
1 Swansea College of Art, University of Wales Trinity Saint David, UK
2 School of Psychology, Swansea University, UK
3 Institute of Languages and Communication, Federal University of Pará, Belém, Brazil
4 C.G.Jung Institute, Küsnacht, Zurich, Switzerland
In 1916, artists, poets and other literary creatives came to Zurich and to the Cabaret Voltaire where they created Dadaism, which prioritised irrationality and bizarre creativity in art, performance, poetry and literature. Also in Zurich at that time, Jung was developing analytical psychology. At first glance Jung and Dada have little in common. Lier (2023, p.21) writes that ‘Jung and Dada do not go together’ and Zuch (2005) reports that Jung condemned Dadaism as ‘folly and tasteless’. However, looking back at this historical period, Zuch (2005) argues that Jung and Dadaism did have similarities, given Jung’s interest in dreaming, art and mythology, as well as parapsychology and the occult, which also were influences on Dada.
There are similarities between Jung and Dada in terms of their downplaying of egoism and rationality, and their recognition of the importance of unconscious processes, of art, synchronistic chance occurrences, and dreaming. We discuss these similarities, and refer to the artist and sculptor Hans Arp, whose work was partly mystical, religious, and based on nature. For Arp and Jung, dreams can help us balance and readjust, and overcome egoism. Arp wrote ‘Dreams and art are a magical treasure; they connect people with the life of light and darkness, with real life, with real spiritual collectivity.’ (Zuch, p.236.)
In his chapter on The Aims of Psychotherapy, Jung (1933) wrote that as his patients might be dependent on his ideas of the dream, he urged some patients to paint their dreams. Many of the artworks that Jung had suggested that his patients paint are held in the C.G. Jung Institute Picture Archive. Lier (2023) describes how the earliest paintings, a series from one woman patient from 1917 to 1919, include snakes, mandalas, stylised figures, and masks. These were made at the same time as the Dada movement was occurring, and have many similarities with Dadaist work, especially the masks and stylised figures.
Given this overlap between Dadaism and Jung, in the summer of 2023, Julia Lockheart and Mark Blagrove held two Dream Salons in Zurich: the first event was at the C.G. Jung Institute and the second at Cabaret Voltaire. This presentation will describe the two events, the two dreams, and the paintings of the two dreams, made live during the events. The Dream Salon events, in accord with Jungian and Dadaist thinking, aimed to balance conscious deliberation and unconscious knowledge and creativity, and to demonstrate the importance of dreams and paintings of dreams to the dreamer and to those with whom they share the dream.
Jung, C.G. (1933) Modern man in search of a soul. Reprint, Abingdon: Routledge, 2001.
Lier, D. (2023) ‘From non-sense to primordial sense: Echoes of Dada in the picture archive’, in R. Ammann, V. Kast, & I. Riedel (eds.) Treasure from the archive, C.G. Jung Institute Zürich – Küsnacht, Images created by patients in analysis 1917-1955. (Translation by C. Nielsen & S.P. d’Or.) (Originally published in German in 2018.) Oberlin, OH: Analytical Psychology Press, pp.15-31.
Zuch, R. (2005) Die Surrealisten und C. G. Jung: Studien zur Rezeption der analytischen Psychologie im Surrealismus am Beispiel von Max Ernst, Victor Brauner und Hans Arp. VDG: Weimar.
Examples of the work of Hans Arp are below: Constellation According to the Laws of Chance, 1930, and Head with Mustache, 1926.
Video of Julia Lockheart discussing her pandemic paintings and their relationship to Surrealism, presented at the Surrealisms 2021 conference, 11th - 14th November 2021
The link below is to our video that was part of the 4-day online Surrealisms 2021 conference, held by the International Society for the Study of Surrealism, 11th - 14th November 2021. In the video Julia Lockheart describes the series of pandemic dreams told to us in 2020-21 and painted by her, and describes the relationship of our performances & her artworks to Surrealism. [Some of the filming is shaky due to the speed with which we had to make the video! We thank the Oriel Science gallery in Swansea for providing facilities for the filming.]
Four of our paintings from the Covid-19 pandemic series were displayed at the Freud Museum London as part of the exhibition 1920/2020: Freud and Pandemic, from 19th May to 12th September 2021. The exhibition explored similarities between the Spanish flu pandemic after World War 1 and the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic.
Just watched Luis Buñuel’s 1950 film Los Olvidados (The Forgotten; film known in English as The Young and the Damned), about street children in Mexico City. Although it is very bleak social realism, very unlike his later surreal work, it has a mesmerising dream sequence half way through. Available in the US on Prime and elsewhere on YouTube: https://youtu.be/DX1uyJUa1o8.
Very much recommended! Further details with spoiler alert on Wikipedia, and pieces on it at many websites, especially about the role of chickens in the film!
Article about German-Argentinian photographer Grete Stern (1904-1999), who created surrealist photomontages of dreams sent by Argentinian women in the 1940s-50s to an illustrated magazine for analysis in its column ‘Psychoanalysis will help you.’ The value of the images was recognised later and her work was the subject of a New York Museum of Modern Art exhibition in 2005.
Highly recommended paper on dreaming and surrealism: André Breton and The Politics of Dream: Surrealism in Paris, ca. 1918–1924.
The use of dreams in surrealism is described in the paper André Breton and The Politics of Dream: Surrealism in Paris, ca. 1918–1924, by JACK J. SPECTOR (1989), in American Imago, Vol. 46, No. 4 (Winter 1989), pp. 287-317. The link here is to the first page but access to an academic library is needed for the full paper.
The paper describes how surrealists recorded their dreams, publishing them in surrealist magazines, even having public performances, termed séances, in which a person falling asleep spoke of their thoughts, images and dreams to the audience. The interest in dreams helped to counter the influence of a modern life that was supposedly rational but which had led to the First World War. It was important to the surrealists for dream accounts to be verbatim, so that they were not stylised or made literary. In the First Surrealist Manifesto, the head of the movement, André Breton, who was a psychiatrist and poet, praised Freud for his work on dreams, and stated that surrealism was grounded in associations and the ‘disinterested play of thought.’ The paper recounts many dreams of André Breton and relates these to happenings within the surrealist movement. For example, one dream from the magazine La Révolution Surréalist in 1924 is of a moveable urinal at a railway station, followed by a flying urinal which the dreamer thought was dangerous, a reference here to Duchamp’s use of a urinal in the ready-made Fountain, in 1917. The dreams of Breton in the paper include many of the leading surrealists, such as Picasso, and the ghost of Apollinaire, who had died in 1918 and had coined the word surrealism in his 1917 play The Breasts of Tiresias. In another dream Breton is in a funeral procession which, to his surprise, is going in the opposite direction to the cemetery. He finds himself abreast of the hearse. ‘On the coffin sits an older man, extremely pale, in deep mourning and wearing a top hat, who can be none other than the dead man who, turning alternately left and right, returns the greetings of the passers-by. The procession enters into a match factory.’
This is a fascinating paper in which the author described the importance of dreams to surrealism, and relates the dreams of André Breton to what was occurring in the surrealism movement and its members at the time.
11th September 2019, Freud Museum London event on the 20th anniversary of the release of Stanley Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut
Spoiler alert for some of the following!
With a large audience at the Freud Museum London film researcher Mary Wild discussed Stanley Kubrick's last film with Professor of Film Studies Nathan Abrams. The event included how the film was made, psychoanalytic issues in items of the film, and the critical and public response to the film. One theme of the film is the relationship of fantasy to reality, and hence the meaningfulness, or lack of meaning, of dreams, as present in the final dialogue between Bill (Tom Cruise) and Alice (Nicole Kidman). From a dream research perspective, the discussion between Mary Wild and Nathan Abrans on why the object of Alice's fantasy was portrayed as a naval officer, rather than an air force officer, or army officer, or even a surfer, was fascinating; 'why was this element chosen?' is a common question regarding film and dream content. Another link to dreams was the author of the 1926 novella Traumnovella (Dream Story), the basis for the film. Arthur Schnitzler lived in Vienna, setting the story there, and was a contemporary of and praised by Freud. At the end of the discussions we were left with the messages that what was real and what fantasy in the film was not in all cases clear, that much of the plot hinged on Bill's inability to accept being told a fantasy by his wife, and that it is our choice which to accept of the two characterisations of dreams in the film.
Jon Lipsky is Professor of Acting and Playwriting at Boston University, and also an award-winning playwrite and director. Dreaming Together describes acting-based methods for exploring and enacting dreams. The book is useful for professional actors and non-actors who wish to engage in a physical and imaginative way with their own dreams and the dreams of others. Although its main aim is to link dreaming, working with dreams, and acting, it is also relevant to group work discussing dreams, and to possible roles of dreams in the imagination and socially, including in the eliciting of empathy.
This is the first large-scale exhibition of surrealist Dorothea Tanning's work for 25 years, bringing together 100 works from her seven-decade career, from enigmatic paintings to uncanny sculptures. Included are striking uncanny buildings and interiors. The two girls peeling off the dingy wallpaper to reveal body parts underneath, in Children's Games (1942), and the two girls with a large sunflower in a shabby hotel corridor, in Eine Kleine Nachtmusik (1943). And doors, either closed or ajar and open to the imagination. There is a wonderful detailed essay (Dorothea Tanning: Behind the Door, Another Invisible Door) in the catalogue by curator and Cambridge University art historian Alyce Mahon, a specialist in surrealism. The essay describes Tanning being drawn to surrealism after seeing the Fantastic Art, Dada, Surrealism exhibition at New York's MoMA in 1936, and development then, with paintings, soft body-like sculptures, ballet stage design and costumes, and a very disturbing installation of a hotel room.
From a dreaming perspective, dream content often refers to houses, rooms, even discovering new rooms. See the disturbing Dilapidated House dream in the Gallery on this site, painted in response to a dream told to us at the Freud Museum London. The painting, including the full text of the dream, is the third artwork down on the November 2018 Freud Museum archive here.
In two and a quarter hours on Super Science Sunday at the Waterfront Museum, Swansea, 87 children told us their dreams and we helped each child to paint their dream! A very fun filled and creative event!