Antonin Artaud’s Art from the Sanatorium
Music and Performing Arts, College of
Theatre and Dance, Department of
BURS Faculty Advisor
Dr. James Al-Shamma
Antonin Artaud is known for the creation of the Theatre of Cruelty and his avant-garde ideas, but how much of his work was influenced by the years he spent in and out of mental institutions? Artaud wrestled with his mental and physical health for his entire life and as a result was placed in a sanatorium and institutionalized on a few occasions. Although he was diagnosed with insanity, a catch-all prognosis, during his own time, it’s likely that he was, specifically, schizophrenic, as evidenced by his letters to Jacques Rivière. Artaud’s goal was to break the fourth wall and bring the audience into the play, often through uncomfortable means. This theme of discomfort is found in most of his work and is directly related to his struggle with mental health. The time that Artaud spent in sanatoriums and other medical facilities shaped the way he saw the world, and this is made clear through his many different artistic attempts and interactions with his coevals.
Graham, Mary, "Antonin Artaud’s Art from the Sanatorium" (2023). Belmont University Research Symposium (BURS). 184.