Creativity: Patterns of Creative Imagination as Seen Through Art explores the fullness and variety of creativity

Part of the Zurich Lecture Series and previously published by Spring Journal, Creativity: Patterns of Creative Imagination as Seen Through Art looks at where where creativity comes from. Is it inspired from above? Welling up from below? Picked up from the air?

This book does not claim to reveal this secret. It does not attempt to reduce creativity to a “nothing but,” for example to explain it as a special ability of certain creative individuals with special abilities. On the contrary, it is about exploring the fullness and variety of this amazing power, which is the basis of all cultural, artistic, scientific and spiritual activity of man, without attributing it to a simple cause.

The creative imagination is unlimited in its richness of design. At the same time, however, there is a canon of basic forms of creative experience and creative ideas. In other words, creative design is infinitely complex in its respective contents and at the same time follows a limited formal grammar.

To work out the basic forms of this grammar of creativity, this book examines 25 selected works by artists in detail. The guiding idea here is that artists often consciously or unconsciously address the riddle of their creative drive in their works, especially in their self-portraits. Artists are empiricists and experts in the creative process. All their work is shaped by the experience of being stimulated and guided by creative imagination.

Their depiction of this enigmatic creative factor, from which their self-understanding and their creative perspective are derived, thus allows us to sketch, as it were, a general phenomenology of creative expression. In other words, the works of painters show in a both vivid and empirically evidenced way how creativity is basically experienced and in which forms it is expressed and realized.

In order to be able to recognize pictures by artists in this sense as statements about the essence of creativity, they must be understood as symbolic reality, in which the riddle of creativity itself, which is at work in painting, is expressed in the form of a picture. The artist usually does not himself address this reflection on artistic creation in an explicit form. This would be questionable and in the best case lead only to an allegorical paraphrase of the phenomenon of art. Real statements about the essence of the creative are possible, however, if creativity itself is expressed in a pictorially symbolic form, i.e. if the artist does not try intentionally to illustrate his opinion about creativity, but if he allows the creative gestalt itself to appear as such.

This book presents art as something that invites symbolic understanding. In this way, art appears not only as an aesthetic experience, but also as a deep symbolic discovery, in which rich psychological knowledge can be found.

“In his trenchant and all encompassing analysis of the emergence of autonomous imagination in the works of artists, Paul Brutsche lays out a theory of creativity that is deeply grounded in Western philosophy and contemporary Jungian thought. Brutsche’s insights reach boldly for the stars in claiming transcendence for creativity in human existence. This is a summary of decades of research and observation and a devout tribute to creativity and especially to its manifestations in the domain of art. It is a feast for the eye and the mind.”

-Murray Stein, PhD, author of Jung’s Map of the Soul


“With a wide breadth of comprehension Paul Brutsche outlines the many forms of creativity, then to distinguish the special gifts of the creative artist. The author’s fine sensitivity and incredible flare for detail offer new perspectives on many famous paintings. He elaborates on the painter’s imagination, self-observation, sensitivity, life-experiences, and cultural anchoring as the essential ingredients that give birth to the great masterpieces of Western Art. Paul Brutsche has written an inspiring book on creativity.”

-John Hill, MA, author of At Home in the World: Sounds and Symmetries of Belonging

“Paul Brutsche gifts us with a jewel of a book on the autonomous creative force that trespasses on intellectual and artistic skills, exerting its archetypal demands on the whole personality of the creator. In erudite and highly differentiated ways, drawing from manifold sources and decades of experience as a Jungian analyst, Brutsche carefully leads us from painting to painting, inviting our participation in myriad and mysterious expressions of creative energy. A truly unique book that opens areas hitherto neglected in the literature on creative imagination.”

-Kathrin Asper, PhD, author of The Abandoned Child Within: On Losing and Regaining Self-Worth

Table of Contents


II Manifestations of Creativity

2.1. Discovering Possibilities in Existing Things

2.2. Confronting Inner and Outer Images

2.3. Binding to Concreteness

2.4. Individual Experience, Self-Observation, Insight

2.5. Anti-Creativity, Deconstruction, Destructivity

III Dimensions of Creative Consciousness in Examples of Painting

3.1. Marc Chagall: The Rabbi, or the Pinch of Snuff

3.2. Marc Chagall: Jew in Red

3.3. Marc Chagall: Rabbi with Torah

3.4. Marc Chagall: Jew in Green

3.5. Marc Chagall: Jew in Black and White

IV Creativity as Interaction Between Masculine and Feminine Factors

4.1. Otto Dix: Self-Portrait with Muse

4.2. René Magritte: Attempting the Impossible

4.3. Edouard Manet: Luncheon on the Grass

4.4. Albrecht Dürer: Adam and Eve

4.5. Julian Wasser: Duchamp Playing Chess with a Nude

V The Creative Individual

5.1. Daimonic Individuality in Albrecht Dürer’s The Desperate Man

5.2. Muse-Inspired Individuality in Pablo Picasso’s Family of Saltimbanques

5.3. Ingenious Individuality in Vincent van Gogh’s The Potato Eaters

5.4. Alchemical Individuality in Paul Klee’s Carnival in the Mountains

5.5. Missionary Individuality

5.5.1. In Albrecht Dürer’s The Four Apostles

5.5.2. In Albrecht Dürer’s Madonna and Child with the Pear

VI Creative Existence

6.1. The Choleric Mode in Vincent van Gogh’s Self-Portrait with the Bandaged Ear

6.1.1. Existential Truth

6.1.2. Binding of Nature and the Person

6.1.3. The Soul in Nature

6.1.4. The Destined Life

6.2. The Sanguine Mode in Nicolas Poussin’s Self-Portrait

6.2.1. Exacting Factuality

6.2.2. Layers of Lightness and Darkness, Foreground and Background

6.2.3. The Meaning of Myth and the Muse

6.2.4. The Sketch and the Final Work

6.3. The Phlegmatic Mode in Paul Gauguin’s The Artist with the Yellow Christ

6.3.1. Natural Authenticity, Visceral Presence

6.3.2. The Art Work and the Depths

6.3.3. Proximity to the Archaic Source

6.3.4. Experienceable Transcendence

6.4. The Melancholic Mode in Edvard Munch’s Self-Portrait: Between the Clock and the Bed

6.4.1. The Gaunt Introspective Gestalt

6.4.2 Depressive Character, Bright Background

6.4.3. Origin of Creativity in the Antagonistic Unconscious

6.4.4. Chronological and Creative Time

VII Creativity and the Experience of Transcendence

7.1. Juan Miró: Self-Portrait

7.2. Marc Chagall: Self-Portrait with Seven Fingers

7.3. Paula Modersohn-Becker: Self-Portrait with Amber Necklace

7.4. Albrecht Dürer: Self-Portrait with Landscape

7.4.1. The Balance of Opposites

7.4.2. Spatial Symbolism

7.4.3. Symbolism of the Body and Its Attire

7.4.4. Landscape Symbolism

7.4.5. The Analogous Creative Force in Nature

7.4.6. Correspondences Between Self-Knowledge and Knowledge of Nature

7.4.7. The Role of Synchronicity

7.4.8. Further Parallels in the Creativity of Nature and Mind

7.5. Henri Rousseau: Self-Portrait from L’Île Saint Louis

7.5.1. The Artist’s Figure

7.5.2. The Boat and Setting Sail for New Shores

7.5.3. The Bridge

7.5.4. The Sky

VIII Concluding Reflections on the Nature of Creativity

8.1. Creativity: Construction and Negation

8.2. Creativity as the Cooperation of Opposites

8.2.1. The Past and the Future in the Realm of Consciousness

8.2.2. “Masculine,” “Feminine,” and Symbolic Thinking

8.2.3. The Creative Personality and the Collective Unconscious

8.2.4. Individuation, the Willful Ego, and Oppositional Life

8.2.5. The Individual and Transcendence

8.3. The Objective Creative Force and the Four Temperaments

8.3.1. The Choleric in The Rabbi, or the Pinch of Snuff

8.3.2. The Sanguine in Jew in Red 64

8.3.3. The Phlegmatic in Rabbi with Torah

8.3.4. The Melancholic in Jew in Green

Overview of Illustrations




About the Author

Paul Brutsche, Ph.D., has a doctorate in philosophy from the University of Zürich. He graduated from the C.G. Jung Institute Zürich in 1975 and is a training analyst and supervisor at the International School of Analytical Psychology (ISAPZURICH). Since his doctoral thesis on the psychological meaning of pictures in analysis and his work as director of the Picture Archives of the C.G. Jung Institute he has been interested in questions of picture interpretation, symbolism in art and creativity and has regularly lectured and published on this topic.

Also available with 
Zürich Lecture Series Cover
Creativity: Patterns of Creative Imagination as Seen Through Art
is Volume 4 of the 
Zürich Lecture Series.

Other Zürich Lecture Series Volumes


Volume 6 – At Home In The World: 
Sounds and Symmetries of Belonging
This work offers a profound philosophical and psychological exploration of the multi-dimensional significance of home and the interwoven themes of homelessness and homesickness and contemporary global culture.

Volume 5 – A Story of Dreams, Fate and Destiny
Erel Shalit “calls attention to the dream and its images along the nocturnal axis that leads us from fate to destiny.” He takes us on a journey from ancient history, beginning with the first documented dream, that of Gilgamesh, to Adam and Eve and the serpent, to Joseph in Egypt as the Pharaoh’s dream interpreter, through ancient Greece to the Asklepion, to Swedenborg’s visions, to our world today through the eyes of Freud, Jung, and science, and finally to the process of active imagination to reveal the workings of Mercurius and the transcendent function.

Volume 3 – Reading Goethe at Midlife: 
Ancient Wisdom, German Classicism & Jung
This book by Paul Bishop reveals the remarkable symmetry between the ideas and Jung and Goethe. Jung’s analysis of the stages of life, and his advice to heed the “call of the self,” are brought into the conjunction with Goethe’s emphasis on the importance of hope, showing an underlying continuity of thought and relevance from ancient wisdom, via German classicism to analytical psychology.

Volume 2 – ‘Two Souls Alas’: 
Jung’s Two Personalities and the Making Of 
Analytical Psychology
Co-Winner of the International Association for Jungian Studies
Second Annual IAJS Book Awards Program

In his memoir, Memories Dreams Reflections, Carl Jung tells us that, as a child, he had the experience of possessing two personalities. ‘Two Souls Alas,’ by Mark Saban, is the first book to suggest that Jung’s experience of the difficult dynamic between these two personalities not only informs basic principles behind the development of Jung’s psychological model but underscores the theory and practice of Analytical Psychology as a whole.

Volume 1 – Where Soul Meets Matter: 
Clinical and Social Applications of 
Jungian Sandplay Therapy
Eva Pattis Zoja explores the psyche’s astonishing capacity and determination to regulate itself by creating images and narratives as soon as a free and protected space for expression is provided. A variety of examples from analytic practice with adults and from psychosocial projects with children in vulnerable situations illustrate how sandplay can be used in different therapeutic settings.