Art and Creativity, per Otto Rank

The most creative artists, such as Rembrandt, Michelangelo and Leonardo, know how to separate even from their own greatest public successes, from earlier artistic incarnations of themselves. 

Their “greatness consists precisely in this reaching out beyond themselves, beyond the ideology which they have themselves fostered,” according to Art and Artist.

Through the lens of Otto Rank’s work on understanding art and artists, action learning can be seen as the never-completed process of learning how to “step out of the frame” of the ruling mindset, whether one’s own or the culture’s – in other words, of learning how to unlearn.  

Comparing the process of unlearning to the “breaking out” process of birth, Rank was the first psychologist to suggest that a continual capacity to separate from “internal mental objects” – from internalized institutions, beliefs and neuroses; from the restrictions of culture, social conformity and received wisdom – is the sine qua non for lifelong creativity.

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