Freud meets Rodin

The Rodin Museum is organising an exhibition of the collections of antiquities that had belonged to Rodin and Freud. The Freud collection, kept at the Freud Museum of London. The objective is to shed new light on the close links between the work of these two men, although they never met. It was in the middle of the 1890s that Freud in Vienna and Rodin in Paris started their collections. Their passion never slackened from that moment onwards. When Rodin died in 1917, he left over 6000 antiquities (mainly sculptures) behind him, while Freud possessed no less than 3000 ( all kinds of objects) when he passed away in 1939. The two collections have many similarities, but the main focus will be the relationship Rodin and Freud maintained with antiquity. These objects were far from being mere pieces of stone for these two personalities. “Saxa loquuntur”, Freud was fond of saying, for in fact these stones speak a language that needs to be deciphered and translated. Vestiges and fragments are traces of a past that is invariably present, and completely open to exploration. “It is real flesh”, Rodin used to say, revealing the first stirrings of an adoration for his “gods”, his “treasures”. A large number of documents from that period, including letters and photographs, will illustrate this profoundly original relationship with antiquity. The collection became central to the work in progress of both men. At this point, antiquity merged into creation, giving birth to hybrid and mysterious works. The assemblages of Rodin provide an excellent example of this process. As for Freud, he too worked on assemblages, on “associations”, and he was able to discern a form of psychoanalysis in archaeology: “Similar to archaeology in that it probes the earth, psychoanalysis must unearth, stratum after stratum, the psyche of the patient, in order to dig up treasures buried in the innermost depths”. For this reason the archaeologist Schliemann was for Freud the analyser par excellence.