Jane McAdam Freud put the father of psychoanalysis on the couch for 20 months.
Well, sort of.
In 2006, McAdam Freud, daughter of British painter Lucian Freud and great-granddaughter of Sigmund Freud, was granted an artists residency at the Freud Museum in London where she spent just under two years analyzing her iconic ancestor’s life and his collection of more than 2,000 objects dating as far back as ancient Egypt. It also served as a means of exploring her own artistic self.
The result was an exhibit and book, Relative Relations, as well as a film, Dead or Alive, that documents the work she created during her residency. A screening of the film will open Old Dreams, New Interpretations — An Artist’s Perspective, a talk by McAdam Freud this Saturday at 2pm.
The talk, co-organized by Taipei’s German Cultural Center and the Lung Ying-tai Cultural Foundation (龍應台文化基金會), will be held at Zhongshan Hall as part of the MediaTek lecture series.
Taipei Times: In what ways has your father influenced your art and how does this complement/differ with your great-grandfather?
Jane McAdam Freud: My relationship to Sigmund and Lucian is something I cannot now deny or escape, so I have learnt to embrace it in my life. It has a continual impact on my life in many ways, genetically, psychodynamically and emotionally. The impact my relationship to my father and great-grandfather has on my opportunities in the art scene, I would say, is more of a hindrance than a help.
The name Freud is a sort of “object.” It is owned by many: the psychoanalysts, the artists and the relations. They are all possessive over the public object. He [Sigmund and Lucian] and his name are a sort of public object and each group wants to own him as theirs, psychodynamically speaking.
This makes it all the more important for me to maintain my own identity and not to get lost in all of that.
(McAdam Freud trained at the Royal College of Art, London and was awarded the British Art Medal Scholarship in Rome. Her work is held in many international and national public collections including the British Museum and National Gallery Archive and is on permanent display at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Her depth of knowledge and extensive experience as a medalist has led to positions of engraver to the Royal Mint and chief sculptor at Australia’s Perth Mint. The 51-year-old artist works in a variety of mediums including drawing and print, sculpture and medals and film and digital media.)
TT: In the book Relative Relations, you examine the similarities between your art and the antiquities collected by your great-grandfather. Why do you see this as important in your relationship with him and your art?
JMF: Well, you have to realize that I was unaware of Sigmund’s collection before the year preceding my artist’s residency at the Freud Museum. I found it extraordinary that I had made so many works that were so similar to those he had collected. I am a contemporary artist and Sigmund Freud collected ancient sculpture. However the nature of the objects he collected bore resemblances to things I had made over the past 25 years.
I was driven to continue with the medium but it was unexplainable to me and others. I continued with it like an addiction. Sigmund Freud said that he had two addictions, one was nicotine and the other was his collection of antiquities. Freud also collected many portrait busts. Portraiture in sculpture was another area I felt compelled to master. Both these facts I found uncanny!