Freud’s Antiquity: Object, Idea, Desire.
25 February 2023 to 16 July 2023
Freud’s study at 20 Maresfield Gardens contains a vast array of figurines, books and artwork that either originate from, or are inspired by, the ancient world. He was a compulsive collector of antiquities, which according to the poet H.D. were intimately bound up with his development of the concepts and methods of psychoanalysis; they helped to ‘stabilise the evanescent thought’ that was continually at risk of dissipation. However, in the institutionalisation of Freudian theory this rich and vital source of inspiration was neglected; we tend to be presented with a version of Freud the theorist as distinct from Freud the collector.
Freud’s Antiquity: Object, Idea, Desire’ will seek to examine this crucial link by bringing Freud’s collection into dialogue with his theories, in the hope that they will be mutually Illuminating. Co-curated with Professor Miriam Leonard (UCL), Professor Daniel Orrells (Kings College London) and Professor Richard Armstrong (University of Houston), the exhibition will discuss six separate aspects of Freudian theory alongside representative objects from the collection, spanning his entire psychoanalytic career from the early paper ‘The Aetiology of Hysteria’ (1896) to his final completed work Moses and Monotheism (1939). We will examine how the link between object and theory is conditioned by ‘libidinal cathexis’- it was Freud’s libidinal investment in his objects that allowed them to animate his thinking.