Art and mental illness – art appreciation course


For this assignment you will research the mental health of either Frida Kahlo or Vincent Van Gogh. 

Both of these artists created many self-portraits. Your job is to determine whether we can see signs of mental illness within her or his self-portrait.

You must then select two articles to analyze their work:

  • One of these articles should be about one or more of her or his self-portraits.
  • The other article should be about assessing mental illness through observation OR an article discussing the mental illness of either Kahlo or Van Gogh.


  • Write a 500-700 word essay in which you analyze the research on her or his mental illness.
  • Analyze one or more self-portraits by either Kahlo or Van Gogh. Do you believe the portrait reflects how the artist was feeling at the time? Why or why not? 
  • Argue whether you believe it possible to diagnose someone who is no longer living based on an image of them? How?
  • What are the challenges scholars face when considering the mental illness of artists?
  • You may use APA, MLA, or Turabian for citing sources.

Please see the rubric for how this assignment will be graded.

 Criteria Ratings Points:

1. Solid Sources: Discussion of at least two written sources that support your ideas. 5.0 pts

2. Argument: Strong argument in which the students explains the validity of diagnosing a dead artist. Discussion of the challenges faced when considering the mental illness of artists. 5.0 pts

3. Self-Portrait analysis: Analysis of one or more self-portraits by the artist that supports student’s argument. 5.0 pts

4. Bibliography: Identification of sources and images using APA style. 5.0 pts

Total Points: 20.0