I of course said yes, as this would be an interesting topic of conversation between my wife and I, she being, in fact, a psychotherapist. Our worlds again collide – art and mental health (but they are closely related, right?).
Lucia Corti Love Masks....Julia Borossa Narratives of LoveAnne Worthington The Inequalities in LoveWerner Prall Transference: Seduction and TranscendenceDavid Henderson Where is Love?Astrid Gessert What Does The Woman Want? - RevisitedAlireza Taheri Love and the Sexual Non-RapportConditions of Philosophy
From the book, Stone Angels, by Ed Snyder
My own interest in the sculpture of Cupid and Psyche began with research I did in preparation for writing my Stone Angels book, which features my photograph of the statue. When I made the image back in the early 2000s, I was unaware of its mythological and historical significance – I only recognized it as a quite moving piece of sculpture, one of many examples of sensuality and death comingled in the cemetery.
“Sex and death. Eros and Thanatos. [The psychiatrist Sigmund] Freud believed them to be our inner drives, forces that both coincide and conflict. As humans we seem to be simultaneously sexually driven and death phobic. Death and desire seem to conjugate in some fashion in our minds, a philosophy of opposites.”
(Available from Blurb.com)
“The sculpture in this photograph is a copy of Psyche Revived by Love’s Kiss, by the Venetian sculptor Antonio Canova [1757 - 1822]. The original resides in the Louvre. The one I photographed is in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Hollywood, California. The cemetery is cleverly described by its owners as the “final resting place of Hollywood’s immortals,“ which includes, quite appropriately, Rudolph Valentino.”- Stone Angels (Blurb.com)
The Journal of the Center for Freudian Analysis and Research
|Victorian Valentine, "Love's Question" (Squidoo.com)|
The interest taken in my photograph by the Center for Freudian Analysis and Research for use on its journal cover is easily understood at first blush – the imagery is essentially that of a Victorian Valentine, and the journal issue is focused on love. However, I believe the sculpture likely has a much deeper meaning to the readers of the journal, the members of the Center for Freudian Analysis and Research. Cupid, or Eros, is waking his love, Psyche, with a kiss. [In Roman mythology, Cupid (Latin Cupido, for "desire") is the god of desire, affection, and erotic love. His Greek mythological counterpart is the god Eros.]
|Canova's original sculpture|
So, then, if Cupid, or Eros, with his erotic embrace, is reviving the woman with a kiss, is she dead? Is Antonio Canova’s sculpture as much about death as it appears to be about love? The meaning behind the statue lies in Greek mythology, not far from Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty. It is an allegory about love overcoming death. As a piece of sculpture in a cemetery, It can easily symbolize life after death – immortality.
Cupid and Psyche’s story is the earliest recorded version of the “wakened by a lover’s kiss” fairytale. It was told by Lucius Apuleius in his 2nd century AD novel, The Golden Ass (in the novel, the protagonist is turned into a donkey).
|William-Adolphe Bouguereau, 1889|
So we can see that, as with love itself, there is much more to the "Cupid and Psyche" statue than meets the eye. The concepts of life and death touch us all - taphophiles, psychiatrists, sculptors, Disney script writers, and certainly these young lovers locked in a sort of Cupid-and-Psyche embrace that I photographed on the Ponte Vecchio in Florence, Italy. In this month of Valentine’s Day, we can see how love is, in fact, a many-splendored thing. Namaste.
References and Further Reading:
Antonio Canova biography