Jung’s Use of Colour in The Red Book: Diane Finiello Zervas

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Date(s) - 30/06/2018
10:00 am - 12:30 pm

Friends House, 173 Euston Road, London NW1 2BJ


From the Instinctual to the Cosmic: Jung’s Use of Colour in The Red Book

Diane Finiello Zervas

“…you lie down in ancient graves, whose walls resound with many voices and many colours of a thousand solar years.”

Liber Novus, Liber Secundus, Chapter 4: ‘The Anchorite’.

Jung’s most intense personal experiments with colour took place when he was engaged with The Red Book, the calligraphic version of Liber Novus (1913-17) that he created between 1915 and 1929. Decorated with coloured letters and words, Jung employed colours naturalistically to illuminate narrative episodes in some of the chapters of Liber Primus and Liber Secundus. But he also used colours symbolically for some of its imagery, and for the mandalas and paintings that are unrelated to the narrative of Liber Novus in the later sections of The Red Book, before breaking off his “aesthetic experiment” in 1929.

This talk will focus on the varieties of symbolic colour in The Red Book, and conclude with a brief exploration of the significance of colour in Jung’s typological and “mandala” psychology of the 1920s.

Diane Finiello Zervas is an Art Historian and Senior Training Analyst and Supervisor with IGAP in private practice in London, specialising in trauma and the interface between creativity, analysis and the arts. Her art historical publications include two major books on Florentine Medieval and Renaissance Art. Currently interested in Jung’s visual imagery in The Red Book, she is one of the leaders of the London Liber Novus reading seminars organised by The Circle of Analytical Psychology. Her essay on Jung’s mandala sketches, “Intimations of the Self”, will be included in a forthcoming book on Jung’s Visual Arts to be published by Norton in the autumn of 2018.

Chair: George Bright

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