The Laws of the Father: Freud / Gross / Kafka

28 November 2008 to 16 January 2009

Various Artists

The early years of psychoanalysis came during an explosive epoch in modern culture. This exhibition sheds new light on that period through a dramatic father and son conflict. Freud, Jung, D. H. Lawrence, Rilke, Werfel, Kafka and other prominent figures all came into direct contact with the protagonists and were all involved in the conflict.

Hans Gross (1847–1915) founded modern Criminology: his son Otto (1877-1920) was an anarchist, a drug addict – and an early psychoanalyst. He saw psychoanalysis as part of a social and sexual revolution. Here was a classic father-son conflict: a patriarch against a son who advocated matriarchy. In 1913 Hans Gross had Otto committed to a psychiatric clinic.



It was the bohemian Otto Gross who introduced Ernest Jones to psychoanalysis. Jung tried and failed to cure Otto of his drug addiction. Freud respected Otto Gross but made it clear in 1908, over twenty years before the conflict with Wilhelm Reich, that he felt psychoanalysis and politics should be kept separate.


The work of Hans Gross set up modern standards of crime detection and modern forms of incarceration, most notoriously the concentration camp. He was one of Kafka’s teachers and his work is reflected in The Trial and In the Penal Colony. Otto Gross belongs to the tradition of social and sexual revolution that extends from D.H. Lawrence to the 1960s. The exhibition illuminates some origins both of present-day authoritarian ideas and of modern underground and counter-cultures.

Kafka, Gross & Gross

Exhibition produced by the Landesmuseum Joanneum Graz / Austria
Curated by Gerhard Dienes.
Sponsors: Kultur Steiermark and the Austrian Cultural Forum London.



Related Resources

Concluding Symposium:
Friday 30th January 2009 Gross v. Gross.

Saturday, 31st Sexual Revolutions.