voices in the family

Van Gogh: Madness and the creative mind



Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Listen to the mp3

March 5, 2012 — The “Red-headed Madman” Vincent Van Gogh lived a tumultuous life, complicated by bouts of anxiety and mental illness. An exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art features a collection of his works created in the year just before his death, a time of “feverish artistic expression” and personal distress. Many extremely creative people — Beethoven, Newton, Woolf — suffered from psychiatric disorders. It’s not a clear picture, though. Does creativity mask the madness? Does the madness boost creativity, expanding depth and insight?

Dr. Dan Gottlieb takes a look at the connection between the creative mind and disquieted mind in light of Van Gogh’s works in Philadelphia and a new biography that raises the question: does the painter’s mental state matter? Dan’s guests are author Steven Naifeh and psychiatrist Barry Panter, PhD. and M.D. Pulitzer Prize winning writer Steven Naifeh’s new book is “Van Gogh: The Life,” written with Gregory White Smith. Barry Panter is the founder of the Creativity and Madness Conference. He’s written “Creativity & Madness: Psychological Studies of Art and Artists.”

Photo by Flickr users Steven Zucker, D Flam, and Tony Hisgett

Share this story:




Share a comment:


Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow WHYY's terms of service; WHYY reserves the right to remove any inappropriate comments. See also WHYY's privacy policy.


Comments are closed.




You may also be interested in: