Freudian Theories in Works of Art

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  4
Wordcount:  944 Words
Date:  2021-03-15

The Treachery of Images by Rene Magritte, 1928-9

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Rene Magritte's immediate need with the motif used was to call to attention through a sense of urgency the disparity of un-reconcilable context lost in translation between language and intent.

The painting features the phrase, Ceci n'est pas une pipe, which translated to, This is not a pipe; this cleverly invokes the realization that the image is not an actual pipe but a symbol of one (Dubnick, 1980).

The painting is indicative of surrealism in art; the painting is made to induce the introspection of the bounds and depths consciousness.

The treachery of images as the work is tentatively titled is a self-explanatory label that becomes apparent through the use of rationalism to expose the disconnect rather enforce as in reality.

The surrealism concepts of Rene Magritte are said to be inspired by the 1923 work of his role model Le Corbusier in his book 'Vers une architecture while also bearing a hint of his work in advertising earlier in his life ("The Treachery of Images, 1929 by Rene Magritte," 2016).

It is also said that the work was partly inspired by the oxymoronic statement he encountered in an art gallery reading, "Ceci n'est pas de l'Art," which translates to, This is not art.

There is a heavy influence of psychologist Sigmund Freud's work in dreams all over Rene's treachery of images: the overt challenge to rationalistic interpretation alludes to Freud's expression of the inherent influence of the unconscious mind on an oblivious conscious one (Cook, 2007).

The Persistence of Memory by Salvador Dali, 1931

Salvor Dali's painting cannot be discussed without understanding the set of his painting or the intent behind this conceptualization; there is clear evidence for Freudian theories that deal with dream states as the painting is discombobulated indicative of the amalgamation of the manifest and latent content of dreams(The Persistence of Memory 2016).

The meaning of the persistence of memory first through it labeling is a contrast to the conventional perception of time reflected in the depiction of three clocks melting and another infested by ants ("Salvador Dali Persistence of Memory: Meaning of the Melting Clocks," 2016).

Dali using Freudian concepts of displacement and secondary elaboration visually postulating a rhetoric of definitive time against the perception of it (McLeod, 2016).

The painting not only alludes to the mnemonic function of manifest content in a dream state that the painting depicts but invites the audience to extract the latent personal content from this painting which has a personal bearing to Dali (McLeod, 2016).

The desert-sea-rocky landscape is reminiscent of his home in Catalonia while the central object in the painting is his facial scaffold depicted as a rock.

It has also been proposed that the painting was an ode to Einstein's theory of special relativity drawing parallels as to how time is incongruent and relative by likening our reality in a dream state ("Salvador Dali Persistence of Memory: Meaning of the Melting Clocks," 2016).

It is clearly inspired by both personal and scientific observations expressed through surrealism.

The Rapidity of Sleep by Yves Tanguy, 1945

Yves Tanguy's painting, the rapidity of sleep is a melancholic color infused sculpture-centric depiction of abstract objects in a desolate landscape.

The title of the painting along with the cultural significance of his British heritage imply a similarity with the menhirs and dolmens akin to Stone Hedge, which add a mystic value to it ("The Rapidity of Sleep | The Art Institute of Chicago," 2016).

The plurality in the original French title, La Rapidite des sommeils, seems to refer to the four stages that characterize sleep.

The flow of objects in the painting reinforces the aforementioned from the contrast of the emptiness of the background to the overcrowding of the foreground.

The upright totems on the right compete for a path as compared to the ones in the center-left that either stand tall or lie flat exuding freedom while the foreground elements are peering in jealousy ("Yves Tanguy: Abstract Surrealist Painter", 2016).

In the same spirit, the horizontal forms on the left seem to indicate rest, which against the ominous gray backdrop has led some to believe that Tanguy is alluding to the eternal sleep: death.

His methodology here has a slight deviation from his previous works where he used amorphous creatures, which seem to be the influence of his wife, American painter Kay Sage.

Freudian ideologies come into play denoting the unconscious process of conflict resolution within one's self as propagated by dreams as it deals with fear, trauma, repression, and introspection (Jones, 1910).

The atmosphere of the painting, which lingers from a dark tone to a thought provocative or contemplative, adds merit to this view.


Cook, M.. (2007). [Review of Great Minds of Science: Sigmund Freud Exploring the Mysteries of the Mind]. Journal of College Science Teaching, 36(4), 7474. Retrieved from

Dubnick, R. (1980). Visible Poetry: Metaphor and Metonymy in the Paintings of Rene Magritte.Contemporary Literature, 21(3), 407.

Jones, E. (1910). Freud's Theory of Dreams. The American Journal Of Psychology, 21(2), 283.

McLeod, S. (2016). Sigmund Freud's Theories | Simply Psychology. Retrieved 17 May 2016, from

Memory, T. (2016). The Persistence of Memory - Dali Salvador. Retrieved 17 May 2016, from

Salvador Dali Persistence of Memory: Meaning of the Melting Clocks. (2016). Retrieved 17 May 2016, from

The Rapidity of Sleep | The Art Institute of Chicago. (2016). Retrieved 17 May 2016, from

The Treachery of Images, 1929 by Rene Magritte. (2016). Retrieved 17 May 2016, from

Yves Tanguy: Abstract Surrealist Painter. (2016). Retrieved 17 May 2016, from

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