“Anne-Marie Dubois”

Doing away with “the art of the insane”

Dr Anne-Marie Dubois is a psychiatrist in charge of the Art Therapy unit at the Parisian institution, Hôpital Sainte-Anne. She is also scientific director of the hospital’s museum for asylum creation. When psychiatry meets art history… Workshops are multiplying, patient demand is rising… From the treatment of anxiety to schizophrenia, art therapy has met with growing enthusiasm in mental healthcare institutions for the last thirty years or so. Used for psychiatric purposes, art-therapy techniques may well also change the way we see otherness, and transform our fears about insanity… To find out more about this art whose contours are still hazy, we went to meet the psychiatrist Dr Anne-Marie Dubois, in charge of the Art Therapy unit at the Encephalon Mental Illness Clinic. At the heart of the Parisian hospital Hôpital Sainte-Anne, this doctor is also scientific director of the Musée d’Art et d’Histoire, whose creation dates back to the end of the 19th century. She has curated numerous exhibitions, including “Les Unes et les Autres”, “Psilocybine”, or “Elle était une fois” devoted to the Collection Sainte-Anne (until 28 February2018). From therapeutic issues to aesthetic commitment, Anne-Marie Dubois presents this “psychopathological art”: a singular practice crossing over mental health and art history. An interview.   The exhibition “Elle était une fois” goes over the history of the Hôpital Sainte-Anne’s collection. What are the milestones of this history? The oldest works date back to 1858. Already in the 19th century, a certain number of psychiatrists and artists paid interest to these spontaneous works produced by hospital patients. Some of these patients discovered, by chance, that they enjoyed this activity while others already practised art before being hospitalised. At a time when hospitalisation periods were long, this art could be described as “asylum” art – which is no longer the case...

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