Object of the Month: November

Georg Herold: Amor and Psyche

On the one hand, this work by the artist Georg Herold from 1989 harks back to the ancient legend of Amor and Psyche, while on the other referencing Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytic theories, that often revolve around the desire of the sexes. The sexual symbolism of the per se asexual objects of the installation also forges a link to Freud’s work Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious, in which he analyses the offensiveness of sexual symbolism in language and images and the relief function of jokes.

Georg Herold’s object installations often consist of everyday objects and natural materials. In Amor and Psyche he uses wood, wire and nylon—a broom and a pair of tights hanging on a wooden coat-hook. Echoing GDR times when tights were a much sought-after luxury product, the artist combines them with the black bristles of a broom head to create a symbol of desirable femininity. A wooden broom-handle acts as a far less conspicuous male counterpart; held by wire, it leans towards the female centre, thus re-emphasising the already obvious sexual connotation of the arrangement. The artist’s comment on the piece: “Sexuelle Fantasien in ihre Schränke verweisen!” (Put sexual fantasies in their place! [in German: in their closets]) (Georg Herold, 2006).

Georg Herold, born in Jena in 1947, studied in the GDR before emigrating to the FRG in 1973 to continue his studies at renowned institutions including the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich. At the beginning of the 1980s he questioned the art market boom together with various fellow artists, but soon ended this phase of rebellion, going on to devote himself to creating thoughtful, complex works, often with an element of irony and criticism. The artist currently lives and works in Cologne.

Amor and Psyche is part of the Contemporary Art Collection of the Sigmund Freud Museum and was recently on show at the exhibition “Hidden thoughts of a visual nature” (2017–2018) in Sigmund Freud’s “first practice” on the upper ground floor at Berggasse 19.
Photo: Georg Herold, Amor and Psyche, 1989 (c) Margherita Spiluttini

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