Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing

22 October 2014 to 26 April 2015

Exploring Freud’s revolutionary ideas on love and the libidinal drive through his art collection, his writings and letters, and the response from contemporary artists.

Martha and Sigmund Freud, 1911

Love remains an ever intriguing and complex emotion. To examine Freud’s theories on this topic, key works in his collection are displayed, including statues of Eros, and other erotic and related deities and objects. This exhibition, situated in the upstairs gallery, gives visitors the opportunity to view more closely and in detail these rare and beautiful works.

Freud’s theories on Eros, the love force and libido of psychoanalysis, also provide the context for an investigation of Sigmund Freud’s personal experiences. Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing traces his passionate courtship of his future wife Martha Bernays. The couple exchanged hundreds of letters during their four year engagement. A selection of their letters reveals a relationship that was both ardent and intellectual. Memorabilia, including family photographs, supplement this intimate aspect of Freud’s life.

Freud explored the meaning of Eros in his writings, and the exhibition draws out the profound connections between classical Greek culture, the works collected by Freud and the development of psychoanalysis. To Freud, Eros could spark the civilizing force of love that resulted in fulfilling relationships as well as unleashing turbulent, unbridled and destructive emotions.

Figure of Eros (Asia Minor Myrina, 330 BC – 323 BC). Freud Museum London

The complex ideas raised by psychoanalysis are also examined through the eyes of highly regarded contemporary artists including Jodie Carey, Edmund de Waal, Rachel Kneebone and Hannah Collins. Generously supported by a grant from Arts Council England (ACE)

Curated by Dr Janine Burke, Monash University, Melbourne

Dr Janine Burke has enjoyed a long association with Freud Museum London and the Sigmund Freud Museum Vienna. She is the author of  The Gods of Freud: Sigmund Freud’s Art Collection (2006). With Freud Museum London, she curated An Archaeology of the Mind: Sigmund Freud’s Art Collection for Monash University Museum of Art, Melbourne, and Nicholson Museum, University of Sydney (2007-2008).

In June 2011, as part of Freud Museum London’s 25th anniversary celebrations, Dr Burke gave a lecture, Freud’s Collection: Passion, Loss and Recovery. In 2009, she lectured at the Sigmund Freud Museum, Vienna on Freud’s Goddesses: Freud and the Feminine.