Art and mental illness

The topic of artists and depression has been discussed on our forum for quite a while, but the New York Times‘s Well Blog recently had this to say:

“Studies suggest that creative people often
share more personality traits with the mentally ill than “normal”
people in less creative pursuits. One Stanford University study
compared patients with bipolar disorder with a group of healthy people.
They found that graduate students in creative disciplines shared more
personality traits with the bipolar patients than with their healthy
but less creative peers …”

The author points to the case of Mexican artist Martín Ramírez, called one of the greatest artists of
the 20th century. He created hundreds of drawings and collages while institutionalized at a state hospital in California, where he’d been
diagnosed with schizophrenia and lived most of his life. Watch a slideshow of his work here, and you can see more of his work at the American Folk Art Museum. It’s really striking.

Untitled (Galleon on Water) by Martín Ramírez (gouache, colored pencil and pencil, 33×24)

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2 thoughts on “Art and mental illness

  1. Amy

    Great – more reinforcement that you’ve got to be crazy to be a good artist. I’m really trying to overcome that stereotype and believe that a person can be completely normal and sane and still do meaningful, creative work.

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