Art and Images in Psychiatry |


James C. Harris, MD
Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2004;61(7):647-648. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.61.7.647.
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Frida Kahlo's (1907-1954) prize-winning1(p320) painting Moses examines the birth ofthe hero in myth and legend. Stimulated by Sigmund Freud's Moses and Monotheism,2 Kahlo providesher imaginative visual response to Freud's text. Her friend and patron, engineerJosé Domingo Lavín, had lent her the book to read and, notingher fascination with it, suggested that she paint her interpretation. In explainingthe painting to a group of friends, she said that she read the book once andthen began to paint her first impression. She told them that the theme wasMoses, or the birth of the hero, but that she generalized this in her ownway: "What I wanted to express most intensely and clearly was the reason thatpeople need to invent or imagine heroes is because of their pure [unmitigated]fear—fear of life and fear of death."3(p72)

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Frida Kahlo (1907-1954), Mexican. Cover: Moses, 1945. Oil on masonite,15¾ × 19½ in. Private collection. Reproduced by authorization of the Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes yLiteratura, México City, México. Copyright 2004, Banco de México. Diego Rivera & Frida Kahlo Museums Trust, Cuauhtémoc, México. Figure appearing in "Art and Imagesin Psychiatry" article: Stela of the Royal Family (Akhenatenwith his wife Nefertiti and their 3 daughters under the rays of Aten), ca 1345 BCE. Painted limestone relief from Akhenaten (Tellel-Amarna), 32.5 × 39 cm. Egypt, 18th dynasty. Aegyptisches Museum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Berlin, Germany.Photograph courtesy of Bildarchiv Preussischer Kulturbesitz/Art Resource, NY.

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Stela of the Royal Family (Akhenaten withhis wife Nefertiti and their 3 daughters under the rays of the Aten), ca 1345BCE.

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