TUESDAY, February 5, 2008 at 8:00 p.m.

The Robert S. Liebert Award in Applied Psychoanalysis

David Rosand, Ph.D.
Meyer Schapiro Professor of Art History, Columbia University


Freud’s classic “Leonardo da Vinci and a Memory of His Childhood” has made that Italian Renaissance artist a central object of psychoanalytic exploration. The essay opened important psychological perspectives on Leonardo based on the artist’s own written testimony as well as on his painting. Despite its now much criticized mistakes, of textual mistranslation and visual misinterpretation, it continues to inspire the deeper probing of the expressive dimensions of works of art. Since its publication nearly a century ago, the art of Leonardo has become more fully known, especially his drawings and his writings. If not suspicious of a psychoanalytic approach, art historians are, properly, reluctant to play analyst in interpreting that art. Nonetheless, we have learned from the discipline to ask new questions of it, to expect it to reveal more about itself and its maker. Focusing on the drawings and writings of Leonardo, this lecture will follow the lead of the left hand guiding his pen, on the assumption that the resulting line is indeed a revelatory trace of the self.