Art and the Zürich School Jung’s library today contains few books on modern art, though some books were probably dispersed over
He possessed a catalogue of the graphic works of Odilon Redon, as well as a study of him.
He likely encountered Redon’s work when he was in Paris.
Strong echoes of the symbolist movement appear in the paintings in Liber Novus.
In October of 1910, Jung went on a bicycle tour of northern Italy, together with his colleague Wolfgang Stockmayer.
In April 1914, he visited Ravenna, and the frescos and mosaics there made a deep impression on him.
These works seemed to have had an impact on his paintings: the use of strong colors, mosaic-like forms, and two-dimensional figures without the use of perspective.
In 1913 when he was in New York, he likely attended the Armory Show, which was the first major international exhibition of modern art in America (the show ran to March 15, and Jung left for New York on March 4).
He referred to Marcel Duchamp’s painting Nude Descending a Staircase in his 1925 seminar, which had caused a furor there.
Here, he also referred to having studied the course of Picasso’s paintings.
Given the lack of evidence of extended study, Jung’s knowledge of modern art probably derived more immediately from direct acquaintance.
During the First World War, there were contacts between the members of the Zürich school and artists.
Both were part of avant-garde movements and intersecting social circles.
In 1913, Erika Schlegel came to Jung for analysis.
She and her husband, Eugen Schlegel, had been friendly with Toni Wolff.
Erika Schlegel was Sophie Taeuber’s sister, and became the librarian of the Psychological Club. Members of the Psychological Club were invited to some of the Dada events.
At the celebration of the opening of the Gallery Dada on March 29, 1917, Hugo Ball notes members of the Club in the audience.
The program that evening included abstract dances by Sophie Taeuber and poems by Hugo
Ball, Hans Arp, and Tristan Tzara. Sophie Taeuber, who had studied with Laban, arranged a dance class for members of the Club together with Arp.
A masked ball was also held and she designed the costumes.
In 1918, she presented a marionette play, King Deer, in Zürich. It was set in the woods by the Burghölzli.
Freud Analytikus, opposed by Dr. Oedipus Complex, is transformed into a parrot by the Ur-Libido, parodically taking up themes from Jung’s Transformations and Symbols of the Libido and his conflict with Freud.104 However, relations between Jung’s circle and some of the Dadaists became more strained.
In May 1917, Emmy Hennings wrote to Hugo Ball that the “psycho-Club” had now gone away.105
In 1918, Jung criticized the Dada movement in a Swiss review, which did not escape the attention of the Dadaists.106
The critical element that separated Jung’s pictorial work from that of the Dadaists was his overriding emphasis on meaning and signification.
Jung’s self-explorations and creative experiments did not occur in a vacuum.
During this period, there was great interest in art and painting within his circle.
Alphonse Maeder wrote a monograph on Ferdinand Hodler and had a friendly correspondence with him.
Around 1916, Maeder had a series of visions or waking fantasies, which he published pseudonymously.
When he told Jung of these events, Jung replied, “What, you too?”
Hans Schmid also wrote and painted his fantasies in something akin to Liber Novus.
Moltzer was keen to increase the artistic activities of the Zürich school.
She felt that more artists were needed in their circle and considered Riklin as a model.110
J. B. Lang, who was analyzed by Riklin, began to paint symbolic paintings.
Moltzer had a book that she called her Bible, in which she put pictures with writings. She recommended that her patient Fanny Bowditch Katz do the same thing.
In 1919, Riklin exhibited some of his paintings as part of the “New Life” at the Kunsthaus in Zürich, described as a group of Swiss Expressionists, alongside Hans Arp, Sophie Taeuber, Francis Picabia, and Augusto Giacometti.
With his personal connections, Jung could easily have exhibited some of his works in such a setting, had he so liked.
Thus his refusal to consider his works as art occurs in a context where there were quite real possibilities for him to have taken this route.
On some occasions, Jung discussed art with Erika Schlegel. She noted the following conversation:
I wore my pearl medallion (the pearl embroidery that Sophie had made for me) at Jung’s yesterday.
He liked it very much, and it prompted him to talk animatedly about art—for almost an hour.
He discussed Riklin, one of Augusto Giacometti’s students, and observed that while his smaller works had a certain aesthetic value, his larger ones simply dissolved.
Indeed, he vanished wholly in his art, rendering him utterly intangible. His work was like a wall over which water rippled.
He could therefore not analyze, as this required one to be pointed and sharp-edged, like a knife.
He had fallen into art in a manner of speaking.
But art and science were no more than the servants of the creative spirit, which is what must be served.
As regards my own work, it was also a matter of making out whether it was really art. Fairy tales and pictures had a religious meaning at
bottom. I, too, know that somehow and sometime it must reach people.
For Jung, Franz Riklin appears to have been something like a doppelganger, whose fate he was keen to avoid.
This statement also indicates Jung’s relativization of the status of art and science to which he had come through his self-experimentation.
Thus, the making of Liber Novus was by no means a peculiar and idiosyncratic activity, nor the product of a psychosis.
Rather, it indicates the close intersections between psychological and artistic experimentation with which many individuals were engaged at this time. ~Sonu Shamdasani, The Red Book, Page 203-204