Desire and Avoidance in Art argues that while early developmental traumas can produce life-long creative endeavors with striking aesthetic results, they may also, for the male artist, result in destructive relations with women. Brink introduces the scheme of personality formation - as found in the work on infant and child development of John Bowlby, Mary Ainsworth, Mary Main, Patricia Crittenden, Allen N. Schore, and others - to explore a new venture in psychobiography. He effectively uses the concept of anxious attachment to describe mother-infant/child relations and their sequelae. Using pertinent developmental data found in each artist's childhood, Andrew Brink accounts for the anxious-avoidant attachment style (or, in Crittenden's termilogy, the Anxious/Controlling style) from which these artists suffered. He aims to explain why partnerships with women are sometimes hazardous and frequently tragic for male artists by referencing various feminist writers. Based on their viewpoints, Brink extracts psychodynamic explanations that are largely based on what the artists' imagery reveals. Furthermore, he explains how the attachment theory of attraction-avoidance is shown to supplement and enrich other ways of understanding chronically tense relations between the sexes. Brink focuses his attention on artists such as Picasso, Bellmer, Balthus, and Cornell, who are culturally powerful and often stimulate discussion about misogynic figures within a social context.
The Author: Andrew Brink holds a B.A. and an M.A. from the University of Toronto and a Ph.D. from the University of London. He is a former Professor of English and Associate Member of the Department of Psychiatry of McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario. He was also Co-ordinator of the Humanities and Psychoanalytic Thought Program at Trinity College, University of Toronto. His publications include: Obsession and Culture: A Study of Sexual Obsession in Modern Fiction (1996) and The Creative Matrix: Anxiety and the Origin of Creativity (Peter Lang, 2000). Professor Brink, who trained with Mary Main, Ph.D., in the theory and use of The Adult Attachment Interview, originated and helped organize an international conference, whose proceedings were published as Attachment Theory: Social, Developmental and Cultural Perspectives (1995).