Freud’s Vienna: Artistic Revolution as Oedipal Revolt

Freud Museum London
20 Maresfield Gardens London
Event time
Patron of the Museum
28 Sep 2019

We have cultural historian Carl E Schorske’s ground-breaking analysis, Fin-de-Siècle Vienna (1979) to thank for a seminal psychoanalytical interpretation of the extraordinary explosion in new and radical forms of art and culture which characterise Vienna in the immediate pre-war decades.

Schorske’s defining concept of an ‘oedipal revolt’, of middle-class intellectuals against paternalistic Habsburg rule, brought clarity and new ways of thinking to the complexities of rational and instinctual developments which occurred simultaneously in every art form. Forty years on, this day course sets out to celebrate and interrogate Schorske’s methods.

Drawing together the shared concerns of culture-makers in common social and temporal spaces, the sessions will set out to examine the birth of a specifically Viennese expressionism manifested through literature, painting and music, driven by the sexual politics of the period.

Through the works of figures including Schnitzler, Schoenberg, Klimt and Kokoschka, we will examine the ways in which the arts in their various different manifestations mirrored or prefigured Freud’s writings on dreams, sexuality and the death drive.

Dr Diane Silverthorne is an art historian and ‘Vienna 1900’ scholar, lecturing in Cultural Studies at Central Saint Martin’s, University of the Arts London. Her edited volume, “Music, Art and Performance, from Liszt to Riot Grrrl’” has just been published by Bloomsbury.