Peter Birkhäuser: Light from the Darkness
The creative process of the Swiss artist Peter Birkhäuser (1911-1976) took a striking turn when he entered midlife. A successful and influential graphic artist, Birkhäuser entered a deep depression and sought answers in the ideas of C.G. Jung; he recorded and explored his dreams, entered into analysis with Marie-Louise von Franz, and eventually developed a friendship with Jung himself. As it became more difficult for Birkhäuser to finish his creative assignments, he began to illustrate images from his dreams. Over the course of 35 years, he kept notes on over 3,400 of his dreams, and his work increasingly focused on the images emerging from his unconscious. His new work was not well-received by the art community of the time, but his enlarged relationship to the unconscious brought great personal healing. Viewed today, his vivid paintings bear striking testament to the disruptive and transformative reality of the individuation process. Few artists have so powerfully evoked the uncanny otherness of the unconscious.
The Jung Center of Houston, Texas is grateful to have received these works of Birkhäuser as permanent gifts from Jungian analyst Dean L. Frantz of Ft. Wayne, Indiana and from the Birkhäuser children, Eva Wertenschlag-Birkhäuser and Kaspar Birkhäuser, both of Switzerland. These testimonies to the power of the creative work of a person in dialogue with the unconscious were dedicated to future generations on April 22, 2000.