The collective unconscious is made up of archetypes


Sigmund Freud introduced the idea that rather than being guided by forces outside ourselves, such as God or fate, we are motivated and controlled by the inner workings of our own minds, specifically, the unconscious. He claimed that out experiences are affected by primal drives contained in the unconscious. His protégé, the Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung, took this idea further, delving into the elements that make up the unconscious and its workings.

Jung was fascinated by the way that societies around the world share certain striking similarities, despide being culturally very different. They share an uncanny commonality in their myths and symbols, and have for thousands of years. He thought that this must be due to something larger than the individual experience of man; the symbols, he decided, must exist as part of the human psyche.

It seemed to Jung that the existence of these shared myths proved that part of the human psyche contains ideas that are held in a timeless structure, which acts as a form of “collective memory”.

Jung introduced the notion that one distinct and separate part of the unconscious exists within each of us, which is not based on any of our own individual experiences — this is the “collective unconscious.”

The commonly found myths and symbols are, for Jung, part of this universally shared collective unconscious. He believed that the symbols exist as part of hereditary memories that are passed on from generation to generation, changing only slightly in their attributes across different cultures and time periods. These inherited memories emerge within the psyche in the language of symbols, which Jung calls “archetypes”.

Ancient Memories

Jung believes that the archetypes are layers of inherited memory, and they constitute the entirety of the human experience. The latin word archetypum translates as “first-molded,” and Jung believed that archetypes are memories from the experiences of our first ancestors.They act as templates within the psyche that we use unconsciously to organize and understand our own experience. We may fill out the gaps with details from our individual lives, but it is this preexisting substructure in the unconscious that is the framework that allows us to make sense of our experience.

Archetypes can be thought of as inherited emotional or behavioral patterns. They allow us to recognize a particular set of behaviors or emotional expressions as a unified pattern that has meaning. It seems that we do this instinctively, but Jung says that what seems to be instinct is actually the unconscious use of archetypes.

Jung suggests that the psyche is composed of three components: the ego, the personal unconscious, and the collective conscious. The ego, he says, represents the conscious mind or self, while the personal unconscious contains the individual’s own memories, including those that have been suppressed. The collective unconscious is the part of the psyche that houses the archetypes.

The archetypes

There are many archetypes, and though they can blend and mold into each other in different cultures, each of us contains within us the model of each archetype. Since we use these symbolic forms to make sense of the world and our experiences, they appear in all human forms of expression, such as art, literature, and drama.

The nature of an archetype is such that we recognize it instantly and are able to attach it to a specific, emotional meaning. Archetypes can be associated with many kinds of behavioral and emotional patterns, but there are certain prominent ones that are highly recognizable, such as The Wise Old Man, The Goddess, The Madonna, The Great Mother, and The Hero. 

The persona is one of the most important archetypes described by Jung. He recognized early in his own life that he had a tendency to share only a certain part of his personality with the outside world. He also recognized this trait in other people, and noted that human beings divide their personalities into components, selectively sharing only certain components of their selves according to the environment and situation. The self that we present to the world — our public image — is an archetype, which Jung calls the “Persona”.

Jung believes that the self has both masculine and feminine parts, and is molded into becoming fully male or female by society as much as biology. When we become wholly male or female we turn our backs on half of our potential, though we can still access this part of the self through an archetype. The Animus exists as the masculine component of the female personality, and the Anima as the feminine attributes of the male psyche. This is the “other half,” the half that was taken from us as we grew into a girl or boy. These archetypes help us to understand the nature of the opposite sex, and because they contain “deposits of all the impressions ever made” by a man or a woman, so they necessarily reflect the traditional ideas of masculine and feminine.

Eve is one representation of the Anima, the female part of a man’s unconscious. Jung says she is “full of snares and traps, in order that man should fall… and life should be lived.”

The Animus is represented in our culture as the “real man;” he is the muscle man, the commander of soldiers, the cool logician, and the romantic seducer. The Anima appears as a wood nymph, a virgin, a seductress. She can be close to nature, intuitive, and spontaneous.She appears in paintings and stories as Eve, or Helen of Troy, or a personality such as Marilyn Monroe, bewitching men or sucking the life from them. As these archetypes exist in our unconscious, they can affect our moods and reactions, and can manifest themselves as prophetic statements (Anima) or unbending rationality (Animus).

Jung defines one archetype as representing the part of ourselves we do not want the world to see. He calls it the Shadow and it is the opposite of the Persona, representing all our secret or repressed thoughts and the shameful aspects of our character. It appears in the bible as the devil, and in literature as Dr. Jekyll’s Mr.Hyde. The Shadow is the “bad” side of ourselves that we project onto others, and yet it is not entirely negative; it may represent aspects we choose to suppress only because they are unacceptable in a particular situation.

Of all the archetypes, the most important is the True Self. This is a central, organizing archetype that attempts to harmonize all other aspects into a unified, whole self. According to Jung, the real goal of human existence is to achieve an advanced, enlightened psychological state of being that he refers to as “self-realization” and the route to this lies in the archetype of the True Self. When fully realized, this archetype is the source of wisdom and truth, and is able to connect the self to the spiritual. Jung stressed that self-realization does not happen automatically, it must be consciously sought.

Archetypes in dreams

The archetypes are of significant importance in the interpretation of dreams. Jung believed that dreams are a dialogue between the conscious self and the eternal (the ego and the collective unconscious), and that the archetypes operate as symbols within the dream, facilitating the dialogue.

The archetypes have specific meanings in the context of dreams. For instance, the archetype of The Wise Old Man or Woman may be represented in a dream by a spiritual leader, parent, teacher, or doctor — it indicates those who offer guidance, direction, and wisdom. The Great Mother, an archetype who might appear as the dreamer’s own mother or grandmother, represents the nurturer.She provides reassurance, comfort, and validation. The Divine Child, the archetype that represents your True Self in its purest form, symbolizing innocence or vulnerability, would appear as a baby or child in dreams, suggesting openness or potential. And lest the ego grow too large, it is kept in check by the appearance of the Trickster, a playful archetype that exposes the dreamer’s vulnerabilities and plays jokes, preventing the individual from taking himself and his desires too seriously. The trickster also appears as the Norse half-god Loki, the Greek god Pan, the African spider god Anansi, or simply a magician or clown.

Using the archetypes

The archetypes exist in our minds before conscious thought, and can therefore have an immensely powerful impact on our perception of experience. Whatever we may consciously think is happening, what we choose to perceive —and therefore experience — is governed by these performed ideas within the unconscious. In this way, the collective conscious and its contents affect the conscious state.

According to Jung, much of what we generally attribute to deliberate, reasoned, conscious thinking is actually already being guided by unconscious activity, especially the organizing forms of archetypes.

In addition to his ideas of the collective unconscious and the archetypes, Jung was the first to explore the practice of word association, and he also introduced the concepts of extrovert and introvert personality types. These ultimately inspired widely used personality tests such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI).

Jung’s work was influential in the fields of psychology, anthropology, and spirituality, and his archetypes are so widespread that they can easily be identified in film, literature, and other cultural forms that attempt to portray universal characters.

John Graham

The Russian émigré painter and writer John Graham, born Ivan Dombrowsky, was born in Kiev in 1886, 1887, or 1888. All three conflicting dates are found on various legal papers, licences, and passports. His parents were of minor nobility but with little means. He attended law school and served in the Circassian Regiment of the Russian army, earned the Saint George’s Cross during World War I, and was imprisoned as a counterrevolutionary by the Bolsheviks after the assassination of Czar Nicholas II and his family in 1918. He fled for a time to his mother’s native Poland, and finally in 1920, he emigrated with his second wife Vera and their son Nicholas to the United States. He began calling himself John in the US, and had his name officially changed to John Graham upon becoming a United States citizen in 1927. The name Graham may have been a transliteration of his father’s name, Gratian. Graham is often described as a quixotic figure who cultivated a larger-than-life persona in the artistic circles of New York in the first half of the twentieth century through his authoritative philosophical and aesthetic arguments on the one hand, and his often fabulous tales of his early life on the other, including a story he wrote of his origins in which he was dropped as an infant onto a rock in the Caspian Sea by an enormous eagle.

In New York, Graham studied at the Art Students League, taking classes with John Sloan, William von Schlegell, and Allen Tucker. Among his fellow students were Dorothy Dehner and David Smith, Adolph Gottlieb, Alexander Calder, and Elinor Gibson, who married Graham in 1924. The couple lived briefly in Elinor’s native Baltimore, Maryland, where he met Etta and Claribel Cone, collectors of modern European paintings. It may have been the Cone sisters who introduced Graham to their circle of avant-garde artists and art collectors in Paris in the late 1920s. Whatever its origin, Graham’s early style has been compared to Cezanne, Braque, Derain, and Chirico, and his frequent trips to Europe made him a conduit for current art ideas and trends for the American artists who knew him.

Graham exhibited his paintings steadily in the late 1920s and early 1930s, including shows at the Society of Independent Arists (New York) in 1925, the Modernist Galleries (Baltimore) in 1926, Galerie Zaborowski (Paris) in 1928 and 1929, at Dudensing Galleries (New York) and Phillips Memorial Gallery (Washington) in 1929, the First Biennial at the Whitney Museum in 1932, and at 8th Street Gallery (New York) in 1933. During this period Graham and his wife Elinor lived in Paris, New York City, New Jersey, and upstate New York. He spent a year teaching at Wells College in Aurora, New York, where he also executed a series of wall panels in 1932. Graham’s friendships with other artists during this period included Arshile Gorky, Stuart Davis, and Willem de Kooning. De Kooning is said to have called Davis, Gorky, and Graham the “three smartest guys on the scene.”

Graham’s European travels also enabled him to earn a living by buying primitive sculpture and antiques for collectors and dealers. In the 1930s he bought African Art for Vanity Fair editor and art collector Frank Crowninshield, and in 1936, Graham arranged an exhibition of Crowninshield’s collection at Jacques Seligmann gallery. Graham and Elinor Gibson divorced in 1934 and he married Constance Wellman in Paris in 1936. They lived in Brooklyn Heights near Adolph Gottlieb, David Smith, and Dorothy Dehner, and worked for Hilla Rebay in her formation of the Museum of Non-Objective Painting, which became the Guggenheim Museum. Suffering financial hardship in the late years of the Depression, Constance and Graham lived in Mexico for several stretches of time, and Graham published several articles on Mexico and Mexican Art, and an essay entitled “Primitive Art and Picasso” in Magazine of Art.

Graham was a prolific writer, but only a few of his written works found their way into print. Aside from his essays, published works include a small book of poetry, Have It!, published in 1923, and a book which presented Graham’s personal theories of art entitledSystem and Dialectics of Art, published in 1937 by Delphic Studios, an eclectic New York gallery and small press run by Alma Reed. The book was influential for a younger generation of American artists; Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner in particular both expressed appreciation for Graham’s ideas. For decades, Graham worked on several other major written works which were not published, including a highly stylized, symbolist work about his childhood and an encyclopedic collection of short, didactic essays on a wide range Grahamiam themes, a work which Graham usually referred to as Orifizio Mundi.

In 1942, Graham organized the exhibition “French and American Painters” at McMillen Gallery (New York) which showed Modigliani, Picasso, Braque, Rouault, and Matisse, alongside the Americans Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Lee Krasner, Stuart Davis, David Burliuk, and Walt Kuhn, among others. The show was well-received critically and, as it was Jackson Pollock’s first public exhibition and Willem de Kooning’s second, and the occasion of Pollock and Lee Krasner’s meeting, could be considered a watershed event in contemporary American art.

Graham’s own style made a pronounced shift away from abstraction in the 1940s. He began referencing renaissance art in his paintings, incorporating occult symbols, and signing them “Ioannus Magus,” or “Ioannus San Germanus.” His marriage to Constance ended acrimoniously around this time. He met Marianne Strate, a bookbinder, through her daughter Ileana Sonnabend and son-in-law Leo Castelli. They lived in Southampton, New York, where Graham was close to the Castellis, Paul Brach, Miriam Schapiro, and where he renewed his friendship with Willem de Kooning, who had a studio in Castelli’s East Hampton home in the early 1950s. Marianne died in 1955.

Graham exhibited at the Stable Gallery in 1954, and at the newly-opened, uptown Whitney Museum of American Art in 1955. Jack Mayer became Graham’s dealer in the late 1950s, held exhibitions at his Madison Avenue gallery, Gallery Mayer, in 1960, and arranged for an exhibition at the Tennessee Fine Arts Center in 1961, shortly before Graham’s death. Graham left the United States for the last time in 1959, lived in Paris for two years, and died in June 1961 in a hospital in London. Gallery Mayer held a memorial exhibition at the end of 1961. Retrospective exhibitions of Graham’s work have been held at the Art Institute of Chicago (1963), the Museum of Modern Art (1968), the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (1969), and the Phillips Collection (1987).



PRINT GIVEAWAY: We are giving away one of each of the photos we have in our Print Sale (a total of nine prints!) to one person that Likes and Reblogs this post. To be entered into the drawing twice you can also Like and Share our Facebook post. Winner will be announced on July 17th.

There’s still time to Like and Reblog for a chance to win 9 beautiful prints! Winner will be announced tomorrow, July 17th at Noon EDT. <3



PRINT GIVEAWAY: We are giving away one of each of the photos we have in our Print Sale (a total of nine prints!) to one person that Likes and Reblogs this post. To be entered into the drawing twice you can also Like and Share our Facebook post. Winner will be announced on July 17th.

There’s still time to Like and Reblog for a chance to win 9 beautiful prints! Winner will be announced tomorrow, July 17th at Noon EDT. <3

A Pioneer of Modern Abstraction

She was a pioneer of modern abstraction but also a deeply spiritual human being who dared to take her own path in the traditional world of early 18th century Sweden. Meet Hilma af Klint an artist who let herself be guided by ’high masters’, who never stopped studying philosophy and who´s big break didn´t come until many years after her death – and on another continent.
Some people are truly ahead of their time. Renaissance man and famed artist Leonardo da Vinci was sketching designs for a helicopter around 1505, when he was painting Mona Lisa. And Apple’s legendary CEO Steve Jobs actually described the iPad in 1983 – decades before it was launched.
A more sublime rider against the laws of time is Swedish artist Hilma af Klint. Known as a pioneer of abstraction she dared to explore the new spirituality of the late 1800s. She translated the occult, the esoteric and pieces of the Theosophical movement into magnificent visuals. She acted as a medium and many of her pieces are automatic drawings, in where she let spirits paint through her. When Hilma af Klint died in 1944 she stipulated that her abstract art should not be shown publicly until 20 years later, because she didn´t think the world was ready. However her big breakthrough didn´t come until 1986 when her art was shown at the exhibition The Spiritual in Art at Los Angeles County Museum of Art

’When Hilma af Klint died in 1944 she stipulated that her abstract art should not be shown publicly until 20 years later, because she didn´t think the world was ready.’

Taking in Hilma af Klints art – as can be done at Moderna Museet in Stockholm this spring and at the Venice Bienniale later this summer – is a physical and spiritual experience, that I cannot imagine leaves anyone untouched. The large, often detailed canvases seem to glow, they speak to you in a number of languages and layers. The world – her world – is presented in bright orange, pale pink, midnight blue and a rainbow of other colors, often juxtaposed. The abstract shapes makes you think of an organic micro- (or macro-) cosmos, but present are also geometric shapes such as the equilateral triangle, the circle, the cross and the six-armed star. Letters and mystic signs or codes can also be found. 

In touch with masters
The story of Hilma af Klint begins at Karlbergs Castle in Stockholm where she was born in 1862. Early in life she developed a connection with nature and her father, a famous naval commander, taught her the principles of mathematics. In essays she has been described as a silent youth but full of willpower. She started her art studies at Tekniska Skolan in Stockholm (later Konstfack), then she took lessons in portrait painting and at 1887 she graduated from the Royal Academy of the Fine Arts. She painted rather traditional, naturalistic portraits and landscapes.
But at the same time she embarked on an inwards journey. Af Klint attended seances where mediums came in contact with the dead. In 1896 she and four other women formed The Five, a group that made contact with ’high masters’ from other dimensions. The activity of The Five came to highly influence her work in the studio near Kungsträdgården in central Stockholm.
In the early 1900s she decided to focus fully on abstract imagery, independently paving a way that also Wassily Kandinsky, Piet Mondrian and Kazimir Malevich would take. According to Moderna Museet, she expressed her ambition to execute paintings that could convey the evolution, describe the eternal principles and laws and the immortal side of man in 1904.

The Temple
Thereafter she began working on The Temple, one of her central works. It consists in several series, in total 193 paintings, and af Klint says she was guided by a spiritual dimension while performing many of them. She called her work mediumistic, during seances instructions for the paintings were written down and sketches were made in a notebook that was kept as a secret for all but a few. She didn´t finish The Temple until 1915, when she did three large altarpieces. In the series is also The Ten Largest – huge paintings that illustrate the four ages of mankind: childhood, youth, maturity and old age.
Her next project was The Swan, a series of 24 paintings that abstractly show the struggle between a black and a white swan. It was aimed to point at the union between opposites such as male and female, black and white, light and dark. She also dictated her thoughts on spirituality and the soul, a text that – when typewritten – consisted in over 1200 pages. 
Later in life she turned her gaze back to nature. Beautiful, soft sketches seemingly depicting the secret life of plants are shown from her elder years.

To Switzerland
Hilma af Klint was a medium and she was also part of the Theosophical Movement and later theAnthroposophical Movement. Theosophy is a doctrine that incorporates various religions and spiritism as different expressions of the one truth, namely that divinity is inherent in every being. Anthroposophy is a life philosophy based on theosophy but with stronger Christian elements. Hilma af Klint and her lifetime companion Thomasine Andersson, a nurse who cared for af Klint´s blind mother before she died, started taking regular trips to Dornach in Switzerland in 1920. There they got to know Rudolf Steiner who founded the Anthroposophical movement. Hilma af Klint spent long periods in Dornach studying anthroposophy and attending his lectures. She became increasingly interested in colors and water paintings.

’If someone dumped all the paintings here in the foyer and said ’now they are yours’ we would panic. We wouldn´t know what to do with them and we wouldn´t have money to take care of them’

Daniel Birnbaum, head of Moderna Museet

New museum?
Due to, or maybe thanks to, Hilma af Klint’s late breakthrough little research has been done on her art and few academic essays have been published. To me that is refreshing. I feel like I can get to know this brave, visionary and extremely creative women on my own, let it take time. Deep inside it feels like that’s what she wants. 
But when I walk around the magic exhibition I also think of the somewhat sad irony of her legacy. In the early 1970s Moderna Museet rejected a donation of the more than 1000 paintings and 26 000 drawings af Klint left behind, art that is now owned by the conflict-ridden Hilma af Klint foundation. Today the same museum enthusiastically shows her work, but it still says it cannot take on the collection, which is in deep need of conservation and digitization. 
– If someone dumped all the paintings here in the foyer and said ’now they are yours’ we would panic. We wouldn´t know what to do with them and we wouldn´t have money to take care of them, Daniel Birnbaum, head of Moderna Museet, said recently to daily Svenska Dagbladet.
– I would say that this is a great Swedish artistry in need of help.
At the same time voices are raised for a state-supported Hilma af Klint-museum, like thePicasso-museum in Paris or the van Gogh-museum in Amsterdam. Let´s hope both politicians and spirits can come to an agreement on that.
Words by Tina Magnergård-Bjers, journalist at the Swedish news agency TT – dedicated yoga practitioner, art lover and cross-country skier based in Stockholm.
Hilma af Klint at Moderna Museet, Stockholm until May 26, 2013 and at the Venice Biennale, Central Pavillion June 1 until  November 24, 2013
Words by Christina Magnergård-Bjers, journalist at the Swedish news agency TT – a dedicated yoga practitioner, art lover and cross-country skier based in Stockholm.

"Just the Facts, Ma’am"

Intervention is the buzzword that defined and prescribed the kind of political act considered effective and correct during the 1980s. In the culture at large, cynicism and exhaustion numbed survivors of the political activism of the sixties and seventies; at the same time, within the academy, aspects of simulation and deconstruction theories destabilized “humanistic” concepts of identity and action, contributing to a sense of moral equivocation. In the political arena internationally, easily visible and identifiable white, Western males did not fare too well fighting wars against often not white, seemingly invisible, unidentifiable guerrillas (or terrorists) who fought carefully chosen, limited engagements. Nationally, single-issue candidates or issues predominated: pro-choice,pro-life,animal rights, the environment, “read-my-lips.” Across the political spectrum, only small “interventions” therefore, were believed to be possible, always already understood by their initiators as ephemeral and of limited effectiveness.

"Guerrilla Girls - Conscience of the Art World". The name and Homeric epithet immediately indicate both the timeliness and the character of their chosen form of intervention. These slef-styled guerrillas chose as their subject and target, sexism and racism in the art world, and as primary site for their ambushes, the SoHo and Tribeca neighborhoods of Manhattan. Further, recuperating the word conscience might in itself be seen as an intervention. During a notably materialistic and selfish era, the Guerrilla Girls recalled to public notice the strategies and values of earlier political groups: isn’t conscience dated as a concept? Naive, religious even? The Guerrilla Girls’ adoption of it was characteristically tongue-in-cheek and sincere (another retro trait in the 1980s).

Since an intervention is meant to be brief, sire-and instant-specific, it is amazing that Guerrilla Girls, formed in 1985, is still active.A press release dated 6 May 1985 announces the appearance in SoHo of “posters pointing to the inadequate numbers of women artists represented in leading New York’s galleries,” and, further, states that “Guerrilla Girls plan to continue its campaign throughout the next weeks and next season, drawing attention to the retrograde attitudes toward women artists that characterize certain segments of the art world of the mid-80’s.” There is something touching about “the next weeks and next season” - not seasons, mind you. No spontaneously formed underground group could imagine that something done out of righteous anger and as a lark could las five years and counting.Their fifth anniversary may be the appropriate moment to consider what Guerrilla Girls is and what Guerrilla Girls has done and does, rather than that perennially asked question, who are the Guerrilla Girls? (Sophisticated players in the political game of intervention, the Guerrilla Girls, as we enter the nineties, are assuredly involved in their own process of self-evaluation.)