Vienna: Medicine, Psychology and Art at the Turn of the 20th Century

This course will explore the intersection of medicine, psychology, and art at the turn of the 20th century in Vienna, the epicenter of dramatic changes in brain science and the arts. Modernism – a reaction to Enlightenment rationality and the Industrial Revolution – claimed that humans are innately irrational, driven by unconscious forces and desires. The Modernist movement called for introspection to understand the nature of these unconscious drives, and its influence was aided by advances in knowledge across a range of disciplines.

We will review developments in medicine and psychology and explore how advances in our understanding of the mind and the unconscious affected our understanding of the creation and perception of art. Examining the works of Klimt, Kokoschka, Schiele, and other artists of the Vienna Succession, a Modernist/Expressionist art movement founded in 1897, we will consider what they can tell us about the psychology of the artist, the subject, and the viewer.

Recommended (but not required) Reading: The Age of Insight: The Quest to Understand the Unconscious in Art, Mind and Brain, from Vienna 1900 to the Present by Eric Kandel

Course Recordings (Please click on the links below to watch the class recordings.)

Session 1 - October 12

Session 2 - October 19

Session 3 - October 26

Session 4 - November 2

Session 5 - November 9

Session 6 - November 16

Venue: online
Meets on: Tuesdays 3:30 to 5:30 pm
Starting: 10/12/2021
Sessions: 6
Class Size: 50
Teaching Style: Lecture and discussion
Weekly Preparation: 1 hour optional
Group Leader Biography:

Beth Sanders is a botanical illustrator, Gallery Instructor at the MFA, and a docent at the Portland Museum of Art. Beth has led five courses for BHS on art, visual intelligence, gardens, and photography. Stephen Sanders is a Pediatric Cardiologist and Professor at Harvard Medical School. Beth and Stephen are both long-time BHS members and volunteers, and they look forward to leading this course together.