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 Events, Major Arcana, Serpents & Slayers, and Sacred Geometries—Symbols & 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.