‘The Return of the Repressed’ unveils her psychoanalytic writings
The Freud Museum in London has just announced an exhibition of works by Louise Bourgeois. Louise Bourgeois: The Return of the Repressed will feature original documents from the artist’s recently discovered psychoanalytic writings, as well as drawings and sculptures. It will be displayed in the London home of the founding father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud. Following its mounting in Latin America, the exhibition has been re-imagined for the unique setting of the Freud Museum in London, previously discussed as a venue by Louise Bourgeois before her death. This was the final home of Sigmund Freud and his daughter Anna Freud, this exhibition will explore the artist’s complex and ambivalent engagement with the theory and practice of psychoanalysis.
Louise Bourgeois was born in Paris in 1911 and lived in the United States from 1938 until her death in 2010. She became one of the best known artists of the 20th century, whose work has inspired a rich commentary from academics and critics alike. What is not generally known is that she also undertook a psychoanalysis spanning three decades. The exhibition is based on the discovery of two boxes of writings by her longtime assistant Jerry Gorovoy at the beginning of 2004, and two more in early 2010. These constitute an archive of over one thousand loose sheets recording her reactions to her psychoanalytic treatment from 1951; several texts refer directly to Dr. Henry Lowenfeld, whom she saw from 1952 to 1982. In some cases these texts complement existing diaries that she kept throughout her life, while in others they serve to fill in the gaps for those years in which she did not keep a diary.
The exhibition will raise fundamental questions about the relationship between art and life, and the therapeutic nature of art itself. To curator Larratt-Smith, who has served as the literary archivist of the Louise Bourgeois Archives since 2002: ‘The discovery of the psychoanalytic writings has enriched and augmented our understanding of Bourgeois’s work and life immeasurably. They represent a distinct contribution to art history as well as to the field of psychoanalysis.’ The exhibition foregrounds the importance of these writings, displaying nearly fifty original manuscripts for the first time and ranging from sketches, notes, dream recordings, lists and drawings.
The Freud Museum London was the final home of Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis, and his daughter Anna, a pioneer of child psychoanalysis. The Freud family settled here after fleeing Nazi persecution in Austria in 1938. The museum was generously left, with all of its original contents to a trust, by Anna. The centrepiece of the Museum is Freud’s extraordinary study, containing his iconic psychoanalytic couch, countless books and antiquities. The Museum opened in 1986, since when it has developed an international reputation for its collections, research, conferences and contemporary art exhibitions.
The exhibition is made possible due to the generosity of the Louise Bourgeois Trust, The Easton Foundation, Hauser & Wirth, Kukje Gallery, Cheim & Read and the Henry Moore Foundation.
The exhibition at the Freud Museum London will be accompanied by a comprehensive events programme, to include a conference featuring some of the academic contributors to the catalogue. Details to be announced shortly.