Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name




Committee Chair

Kloner, Jay Martin, 1938-

Author's Keywords

Symbol; Transcendence; Human; Figure; Visual; Arts; Psychological; Wholeness; Related; Archetype; Divine; Androgyny; Reconciliation; Anima; Animus


Transcendence (Philosophy) in art; Androgyny (Psychology) in art; Jungian psychology; Art--Psychological aspects


From a Jungian perspective, this thesis investigates the ideal of androgynous transcendence by identifying the Jungian anima-animus archetype within three specific artworks produced by three differing traditions. As a result, this thesis contributes to the discipline of art history by providing a nontraditional approach to the interpretation of visual art. Although 'New Art History' is receptive to a Jungian approach in the analysis of visual art, this relatively recent and major new direction within art history does not readily embrace a Jungian understanding of the visual arts. A Jungian perspective towards the interpretation of visual art presents fascinating insights concerning Jung's understanding of the universal Transcendent Function in art. Jung's scholarship teaches that 'archetypes' are patterns of ideas within the 'collective unconsciousness' that are inherent in the psyche and thus common to all peoples and all cultures. Therefore, varying themes found within art are understood as originating from this universally common source of the collective unconscious. Cross-cultural symbols for transcendence, found in art, are often manifestations of universal archetypes such as the coalesced anima and animus. Although Jung was by no means the first to grasp the transcendental power of the idea of these amalgamated male-female opposites, he was the first to connect this idea with the study of psychology. Each of the following three artistic traditions that I have chosen for discussion and comparison offer an image which reflects this archetypally integrated anima-animus and the idea of divine androgyny. These principal world cultures, African, Eastern and Western, are each represented by one of these three artifacts. This thesis investigates the following artworks and their corresponding and confirming philosophies and mythologies: (I) The African tribal sculpture called Seated Couple reflects the archetypal ideal of the reconciliation of the anima-animus within an indigenous culture. (2) Representative of an Eastern culture, the Hindu erotic sculpture called Lovers also reflects this same ideal of the harmonized anima-animus. (3) William Blake's mixed-media illustration titled Satan Watching the Endearments of Adam and Eve represents a Western tradition, and is, like the other two artworks, representative of this same ideal of the unified anima and animus. This thesis identifies, reflected within the visual arts, the idea of the reconciliation of male-female opposites through the identification of the Jungian universal archetype of the coalesced anima-animus also often seen reflected under the guise of divine androgyny. Since art history has not readily applied a Jungian viewpoint towards the interpretation of the visual arts, it is my hope that this thesis will encourage more serious thought in this area among specialists as well as non-specialists.