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Eros, Terracotta, Myrina, Asia Minor, about 330 BC, Possible 19th century copy. Museum number 3898. Image © Freud Museum London

LONDON.- A new exhibition, ‘Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing’, explores Sigmund Freud’s revolutionary ideas on love and the libidinal drive with an innovative combination of Freud’s own art collection, his writings and letters, together with the response of contemporary artists.


Edmund de Waal, And Speech, 2013, 18 porcelain vessels unglazed and glazed in celadons, in a pair of aluminium and plexiglass vitrines. 50 x 80 x 15 cm each, 6cm apart; 50 x 80 x 36 cm overall. © the artist

Love remains an ever intriguing and complex emotion. To examine Freud’s theories on this topic, key works in his collection are being displayed, including statues of Eros, and other erotic and related deities and objects. Freud’s antiquities are usually in his study at the Freud Museum, evocatively arranged as when Sigmund Freud was present. This exhibition, situated in the upstairs gallery, gives visitors the opportunity to view these rare and beautiful works close up.


Phallus amulet, Ivory, Japan, probably 19th Century. Museum number 3409. Image © Freud Museum London

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 literally hundreds of letters during their four year engagement. A selection of their letters, newly translated into English for this exhibition, reveals a relationship that was both ardent and intellectual. Personal memorabilia, including family photographs, supplement this intimate aspect of Freud’s life.


Rachel Kneebone, ‘Remember that we sometimes…’, 2014. Courtesy of the Artist and White Cube

Eros, the Greek god of love, the winged messenger of desire, is well represented in Freud’s stunning collection of around two and a half thousand antiquities. 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.


© Freud Museum London

The Freud Museum often imaginatively uses highly regarded contemporary artists to explore the complex ideas raised by psychoanalysis. In this exhibition works include a newly commissioned sculpture by Jodie Carey, and contributions by Edmund de Waal, Rachel Kneebone and Hannah Collins. These works not only contextualise Freud’s collection but also provide fresh and insightful ways to consider love, lust and longing.