SIGMUND FREUD : CONFLICT AND CULTURE
An Exhibition on View at the Skirball Cultural Center
April 4 - July 25,2000
LOS ANGELES... Sigmund Freud: Conflict and Culture, a major international touring exhibition examining the life and work of one of the twentieth century's most remarkable and influential figures, will be on view at the Skirball Cultural Center April 4 through July 25, 2000. Few figures have had as decisive and fundamental an influence on the course of modern cultural history as Sigmund Freud (1856-1939). Yet few figures also have inspired such sustained controversy and intense debate. The exhibition will underscore the contested legacies of Freud, and also show how notions of the self, including identity, memory childhood, repression and sexuality, have been shaped in relation to his work.
Funding for the Los Angeles run of Sigmund Freud: Conflict and Culture is provided by the J. Paul Getty Trust. The exhibition was organized by the Library of Congress in cooperation with the Sigmund Freud-Museum in Vienna and the Freud Museum in London and curated by Michael S. Roth, who is Associate Director, The Getty Research Institute, and soon to be President of the California college of Arts and Crafts. The installation at the Skirball Cultural Center is being organized by Grace Cohen Grossman, Senior Curator.
The exhibition will feature more than 130 vintage photographs, prints, films, manuscripts, letters and documents and first editions of many publications from the Library of Congress' collection of more than 80,000 Freud items, the majority of which have been donated over the past four decades by the Sigmund Freud Archives. These materials will be supplemented with loans from the Freud Museum in London; the Sigmund Freud-Museum in Vienna; and other important collections.
Heralded by the New York Times as "cleverly designed" and by the New Yorker as "revelatory,"
Sigmund Freud: Conflict and Culture attracted a flurry of controversy in its planning stages and a storm of critical praise as an exhibition that points the way for exhibiting vital subjects in cultural history. It has sparked the popular imagination, attracting large audiences to showings at the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. (October 15, 1998 - January 16, 1999) and The Jewish Museum, New York (April 18 - September 9, 1999). The exhibition is on view at the Austrian National Library, Vienna (October 21, 1999 - February 6, 2000) before opening at the Skirball Cultural Center for its only West Coast showing. The exhibition will then travel to the Museu de Art de Sao Paulo Assis Chateaubriand, Sao Paulo, Brazil (Fall 2000), and the Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago, Illinois (Summer 2001).
Also to be displayed are home movies of Freud and objects from his study and consulting room - including materials from his desk, the chair in which he sat when listening to patients, a model of his consulting couch, and examples from his own collection of antiquities. Approximately 180 film and television clips, and selections from newspapers, magazines and comic books will be included in the exhibition to demonstrate the pervasive influence of psychoanalysis on popular culture.
The exhibition is divided into three parts: "Formative Years," "The Individual: Theory & Therapy,"
and "From the Individual to Society."
The first section begins with Freud's formative years in late 19th-century Vienna, emphasizing points of contact between Freud's intellectual development and major political and cultural events. Highlights will include family photographs, correspondence, early work in neurology, and items documenting his early medical career.
In the second section, visitors will be introduced to the key concepts in psychoanalytical theory, such as the interpretation of dreams and repression, and will be shown how Freud used those concepts in the treatment of some of his most important patients. Highlights of this section will include manuscripts in Freud's hand, a model of Freud's consulting couch, the chair from which he conducted analytic sessions, and the death mask of the Wolf Man (one of Freud's best-known patients).
The third section will show how Freud applied his ideas of individual human psychology to understand the dynamics of society and culture. His theories of the violent origin of civilization and his understanding of the function of religion, art and science in contemporary society will be explored. Critical reception to his ideas and treatments will be addressed in this section, as well as the diffusion of Freud's ideas in professional psychoanalysis. The diversity of post-Freudian analysis will be made apparent, as will the influence of Freud's ideas in a variety of cultural arenas, from the arts to the sciences.
Many have investigated and speculated about the role of religion in Freud's thoughts. Born on May 6, 1856 into a Jewish family with religious roots, Freud lived a secular life while continuing to identify himself as a Jew. Jacob Freud, Sigmund's father, dedicated a copy of the family Bible to his adult son, with a Hebrew inscription calling it a "keepsake and a token of love."
Freud returned repeatedly in his writings to the Biblical stories of Joseph and Moses. Michelangelo's Moses, Freud explained, was both angry at the infidelity of his followers and eager to bestow on them the great gift he had received on Mount Sinai. Michelangelo's rendering of this ambivalence seems to have provoked Freuds own feelings about his place in the psychoanalytic movement. In the last years of his life, Freud once again returned to the story of Moses and reflected on themes common to his early and late work: the impact of a figure like Moses on collective memory and the identification of people with a leader they both love and hate. Freud seized on the notion that Moses was an Egyptian and based on it a story of the evolution of Western religion and the role of Judaism in European culture.
The German army marched into Vienna in March 1938, and Hitler annexed Austria to the Third Reich. As a Jew and as the founder of psychoanalysis, Freud was regarded as an enemy of the new Germany. In his final interview with the Gestapo, who insisted he sign a statement saying he was not mistreated before he was allowed to leave the country, the 82-year-old Freud is said to have sarcastically asked if he could add: "I can most highly recommend the Gestapo to everyone." When the Freud family left Vienna for London, they were fortunate to be able to bring most of their possessions with them. Princess Marie Bonaparte, a close friend and colleague, loaned them the money to pay the "refugee tax" extorted by the Nazis before refugees could transport their belongings. Four of Freud's sisters remained behind in Vienna. Various efforts to secure them visas in 1939 were of no avail, and they died in concentration camps.
The exhibition will conclude with a rare British Broadcasting Corporation radio recording in English by Freud and consists of a short statement about his life as a neurologist and psychoanalyst. Freud read his statement with difficulty, as he was struggling with incurable cancer of the jaw. The BBC recording was made on December 7, 1938. Freud died on September 23, 1939.
In conjunction with the Freud exhibition, the Skirball Cultural Center and the Getty Center will host a variety of programs including lectures, films, discussions, concerts, educational classes and family activities.
The Library of Congress, in cooperation with Alfred A. Knopf, has published "Freud: Conflict and Culture "-essays on his life, work, and legacy. Edited by Michael Roth, the volume, comprising a wide range of views about psychoanalysis and its place in contemporary culture, illuminates the exhibition. Contributors include, among others, Roth himself, Harold Blum, Robert Coles, Peter Gay, Ann Kaplan, Edith Kurzwei1, Oliver Sacks, and Art Spiegelman. The book will be available in the museum shops at the Skirball Cultural Center and the Getty Center.
The exhibition was made possible through support provided by Discovery Communications, Inc.; City of Vienna; Austrian Cultural Institute, New York; Alfred A. Knopf, the James Madison Council of the Library of Congress; Mary S. Sigourney Award Trust, New York; Dr. and Mrs. Kenneth Altshulter, The Charles A. Dana Foundation, New York; Ministry of Science and Transport, Austria; America Psychoanalytic Foundation; Lotte Kohler Foundation; Austrian Airlines; Osterreichische Lotterien, Hofhann-La Roche lnc ; 0.S. Wyatt, Jr., Houston; American Psychoanalytic Association, Embassy of Austria; New-Land Foundation, New York; Peter Sobolak, Vienna; and other generous private contributors.
Complimentary shuttle service between the Skirball Cultural Center and the Getty Center will be available Saturdays and Sundays with the purchase of Skirball Cultural Center museum admission. The Skirball Cultural Center public hours will be extended Thursday evenings until 9:00 p.m. during the run of the exhibition.
The Getty is an international cultural and philanthropic institution devoted to the visual arts that includes the J. Paul Getty Museum as well as programs for education, scholarship, and conservation. The J. Paul Getty Trust and the Getty programs are located at the Getty Center in Los Angeles.
The Skirball Cultural Center seeks to interpret the Jewish experience and to strengthen American society through a range of cultural programs - including museum exhibitions, concerts, lectures, performances, readings, symposia) film and video screenings, and educational offerings for adults and children of all ages and backgrounds. Designed by renowned architect Moshe Safdie, the Skirball is located off the 405 Freeway; exit Skirball Center Drive. The Center is open to the public
Tuesday - Saturday 12:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m.; Sunday 11:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.; closed Monday. Admission is $8.00 (general), $6.00 (seniors 65+ and students) and free (children under 12 years and Skirball members). .