Symbols and Archetypes: Two Millennia of Recurring Visions in Art | September 26–December 14, 2019

The Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery is pleased to present  Symbols & Archetypes: Two Millennia of Recurring Visions in Art , an exhibition that examines artworks and artifacts from different eras, cultures, and disciplines, all through the lens of the archetypal themes that they share. This gallery presentation takes as its point of departure Carl Jung’s 1912 publication Symbols of Transformation, which frames the unconscious as a collective psyche, and the instinctive force driving visions to reappear time and again throughout human history—in dreams, religions, folklore and art from across the world.

Organized into four categories—Celestial EventsMajor ArcanaSerpents & Slayers, and Sacred GeometriesSymbols & Archetypes will explore artworks made over the span of two thousand years, to include: Chinese currency from the Zhou Dynasty (1046–256 BCE); fifth-century illuminated manuscripts; alchemical texts from sixteenth-century Germany; early European tarot cards, proto-surrealist illustration by nineteenth-century French caricaturist J.J. Grandeville; collaged self-portraits by avant-garde French photographer Claude Cahun; twentieth-century lithographs by Marc Chagall and Salvador Dalí; and TV news archives from the Apollo moon landing. 

Alongside historical works are those by twenty-first century artists whose imagery delves into the collective unconscious: Martin Puryear (b. 1941, USA), Rubens Ghenov (b. 1975, Brazil), Sharona Eliassaf (b. 1980, Israel), and Nashville-based David Onri Anderson (b. 1993, USA) among them.

Objects on view are gathered from across Vanderbilt University’s collections, including the Fine Arts Gallery, History of Medicine Collections, Television News Archives and Special Collections at the Jean and Alexander Heard Libraries. This exhibition was organized by Emily Weiner, Fine Arts Gallery interim curator, in consultation with Volney Gay, Vanderbilt University professor emeritus (Psychiatry, Religious Studies, and Anthropology) and training and supervising analyst, The St. Louis Psychoanalytic Institute.


Exhibition press


Symbols & Archetypes exhibition installation, Celestial Events section







St. Margaret and the Dragon
St. Margaret and the Dragon
France, ca. 1430
Ink and color on arch-shaped vellum
Vanderbilt Art Association Acquisition Purchase
Recently conserved
Claude Cahun
Aveux non Avenus (Disavowals), 1930
Illustrated book with eleven collotypes
Made in collaboration with Marcel Moore (French, 1982–1972), Published by Carrefour Press
8 5/8 inches
Vanderbilt University Special Collections & University Archives
Sharona Eliassaf (Israeli, b. 1980)
99 Cent Dream, 2017
Oil on canvas
22 x 28 inches
Courtesy of the artist
J.J. Grandville (French, 1803–1847) “The Wanderings of a Comet,” from Another World, published 1844 Illustrated book 10 5/8 x 7 11/16 inches Vanderbilt University Special Collections & University Archives
Edward Emerson Barnard (American, 1857–1953)
Total Eclipse of the Sun, June 8, 1018
Lantern Slide
Green River, Wyoming
Vanderbilt University Special Collections & University Archives, Edward Emerson Barnard Papers


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