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Learning from MadnessBrazilian Modernism and Global Contemporary Art$
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Kaira M. Cabañas

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780226556284

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226556314.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 02 June 2020

Introduction: Toward Discomfort

Introduction: Toward Discomfort

(p.1) Introduction: Toward Discomfort
Learning from Madness

Kaira M. Cabañas

University of Chicago Press

The introduction offers an overview of the book and describes how it proposes a historical and theoretical account of how modern and contemporary art developed in dialogue with the creative work of psychiatric patients in Brazil. The author introduces the tensions that characterize the specific historicity of the relation between madness and modern art: between patients’ art as used for clinical diagnosis and as evidence for how to move beyond academic convention in art (chapter 1); between reports of the work’s spontaneous production and its encouragement within art therapy studios; between support for a common understanding of creativity and the legitimization of patients’ work based on style (chapters 1–2); between claims to a vital necessity for art shared by all and a universal model of aesthetic reception that is underpinned by normative subjective response (chapter 3); and between claims that the patients’ work is contemporary art and a discussion of the work’s contemporaneity in relation to psychiatric history (chapters 4–5). Finally, the introduction makes a case for a historiographic approach that insists on discontinuities rather than continuities, defamiliarization rather familiarization, in order to parse the specificities of each context and history.

Keywords:   Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, Marcel Réja, John MacGregor, art of the insane, outsider art, self-taught artists, ethics of discomfort, Brazilian modernism

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