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Art and Trauma

The focus of Western art changed dramatically in the late 19th and early 20th century from providing a window on the external world to being a conduit to interior life. Up to that time, most artists had been employed in the service of religion or the state. With photography supplanting art as a means of documenting the physical world, artists began to focus on subjective experience. Because much of the 20th century was punctuated by worldwide and regional wars, political upheaval, natural disasters, and mass displacements, some artists used these traumatic events as subject matter. In addition, the development of psychotherapy provided a way to elicit and understand unconscious material. The art done by children, psychiatric patients, and non-Western peoples became a means of ...

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