A magical picture : ritualistic behavior in visual arts

Tapio Tuominen

    Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisMonograph


    This study explores ritualistic behavior during the creation of visual artworks. The hypothesis was that the creation of visual artworks falls within the sphere of ritualistic behavior. The study asked what emotions an artist experiences during creative activities and in what forms ritualistic behaviors manifest themselves in art and artistic work. The study explores these questions through the author’s own artistic work and experiences gained from the world of visual arts. A belief that it is difficult to experience something without making pictures yourself has led the author to selecting his own artistic work as one of the channels through which information was collected. The aim was to figure out what happens in an artist’s mind when creating art by observing and writing down what is experienced during the creation of the artistic work. For the purposes of this study, artistic work includes the actual making of a picture as well as the related preparations and the subsequent exhibitions. The artistic work was divided into two parts - drawing and painting. A series of pictures was drawn for an exhibition held at the Lönnström Art Museum in 2004 and a series of paintings were completed and displayed at Galleria Huuto that same year. The most significant theorists for the study, Émile Durkheim (1858–1917), Marcel Mauss (1872–1950) and Mary Douglas (1921–2007), provided an insight into understanding, observing and categorizing ritualistic behavior. The frame of reference for the studied phenomenon was the world of visual arts in Finland during the early 2000s. In order to gain enough distance from one’s own artistic work in terms of interpretation, the impact of ritualistic behavior on the world of visual arts must first be understood. This made it easier to understand the wider contexts within the artistic work. The study showed that both the world of visual arts and the artistic work of an individual artist contain ritualistic behavior in many different forms. It showed that archaic ways of thinking and acting have a hidden effect on the world of visual arts and the creation of art. The results of the study could be utilized to produce further studies, as part of visual arts education and in the field of art therapy.
    Translated title of the contributionA magical picture : ritualistic behavior in visual arts
    Original languageFinnish
    QualificationDoctor's degree
    Awarding Institution
    • Aalto University
    • Varto, Juha, Supervising Professor
    • Kaitaro, Timo, Thesis Advisor
    Print ISBNs978-952-60-4927-4
    Electronic ISBNs978-952-60-4928-1
    Publication statusPublished - 2012
    MoE publication typeG4 Doctoral dissertation (monograph)


    • rituaalinen käyttäytyminen
    • taiteellinen työskentely
    • kokemus
    • kuvataidemaailma
    • kuvataiteilijat


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