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This book consists of a concise exploration of the development of Italian art before and after the advent of photography during two periods - one in which the ultimate goal of the artist was to faithfully represent reality and the other that searches for ways to represent the domain of the unconscious using symbols formless shapes and innovated forms of colouring.
The book considers the interconnectedness of art and psychoanalysis drawing heavily on the insights and theories of Freud and Jung. There is a study of Freud's attempt to understand the personality of Leonardo da Vinci through his art and life-history and then this approach is compared to Jung's theories of universal symbols and archetypes.
The book concludes by presenting a detailed cross-cultural analysis of the Mandala - a universal symbol which acts as a perfect example of how humans from all cultures and through time express subconscious archetypes in their creative outputs.
The appendix by Chiara Rostagno Director of the Museo del Cenacolo Vinciano explores Leonardo da Vinci from an artistic point of view and links it with his love for Asia and especially India.