Psychoanalysis.  2021 Jan;32(1):21-35. 10.18529/psychoanal.2021.32.1.21.

Study for Artist Henri Rousseau in the Perspective of the Unconscious: Centering on His Jungle Series

  • 1Lee Hyun Kwon Psychoanalytic Office, Seoul, Korea
  • 2Yoon Hye Ri Psychiatric Clinic, Seoul, Korea


The author analyzed the jungle paintings that artist Henri Rousseau obsessively created in his later years from the point of view of the unconscious. Rousseau’s jungle series expressed (the process of) the unconscious fantasy to restore and possess an idealized mother object. The painter reveals the psychodynamics of resistance in various forms that we encounter in clinical psychoanalytic sessions. In particular, in order to restore and possess the mother object, the painter faced and mastered the mother object containing his destructive anger and aggression. Through this process, the negative mother object was embodied, which enabled the harmonious integration of the splitted mother object in his last masterpiece . In this paper, the author explains that modern painting, starting with Rousseau’s work, moved away from the shadow of the period toward individuality. Thus, the author argues that this unconscious point of view provides an important basis for supporting the modernity of Rousseau’s work with which many art historians credit him.


Artist Henri Rousseau; The unconscious; Jungle paintings
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