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Max Halberstadt, Portrait de Sigmund Freud, 12 février 1932

Sigmund Freud. From looking to listening

daily, starting from Wednesday, October 10, 2018 - 11:00, until Sunday, February 10, 2019 - 23:59

To mark its twentieth anniversary, the mahJ is devoting an exhibition – the first of its kind in France – to Sigmund Freud (1856-1939). With more than two hundred paintings, drawings, prints, books, objects and scientific instruments – including major works by Gustave Courbet, Gustav Klimt, René Magritte and Mark Rothko – Jean Clair, the exhibition’s curator, is proposing a fresh insight into the intellectual and scientific development of the inventor of psychoanalysis and the influence of Judaism.


Max Halberstadt
Portrait de Sigmund Freud, 12 février 1932

In France, Freudian doctrine spread initially in literary circles that underestimated its scientific rationalism. The exhibition therefore focuses on Freud’s years in Vienna and Paris. Fascinated by Darwin’s theories and with a constantly growing interest in biology, he began his career as a neurologist, producing diagrams and sketches similar to those devised by neuroscientists to understand the development of neurons and the workings of the brain.

The exhibition traces the invention of psychoanalysis from its inception in the observation of photographed and drawn symptoms under the aegis of Jean-Martin Charcot at the Salpêtrière Hospital, and which found its specificity and effectiveness in shunning imagery to focus solely on listening, word associations and the complete absence of visual representation. In this respect, Freud can be regarded as an heir to Moses, that great image-breaker. Jewish spirituality pervades Freud’s work from The Interpretation of Dreams, infused with Talmudic hermeneutics, to his final text, Moses and Monotheism.

If Freud, born into a Jewish family well versed in the ideas of the Haskalah (the Jewish Enlightenment), affirmed his atheism and wanted to keep his scientific work separate from his Jewish ancestry, this was primarily to establish psychoanalysis as a universal science. Nonetheless, he owed a profound debt to the interpretative tradition specific to Judaism.

Exhibition' curator

Curator : Jean Clair, Member of the Académie française

Scientific advisors: : Laura Bossi, Laboratoire Sphère – Université Paris Diderot and Philippe Comar, ENSBA
Coordination : Virginie Michel and Camille Filaferro, assistant, mahJ

Virtual visit of the exhibition

With the support of the Fondation pour la Mémoire de la Shoah and the Direction Régionale des Affaires Culturelles d'Île-de-France – Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication

With the exceptional support of the Musée d’Orsay

In partnership with the Austrian Cultural Forum

Thanks to Office du tourisme de Vienne

Logo Fondation pour la Mémoire de la Shoah

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