Jane McAdam Freud (1958)
Born in London in 1958, Jane McAdam Freud is none other than the daughter of artists Katherine McAdam and Lucian Freud, himself grandson of Sigmund Freud, the inventor of psychoanalysis. For a long time she only went by her mother's name in accordance with her mother's wishes, who wanted her four children to blossom away from the notoriety of the grandfather. But it was also because her mother separated from Lucian – who was 'too intense' and non-exclusive in family terms (he had 14 children in total) – when Jane was eight.
She therefore grew up without seeing her father again and trained at Wimbledon College of Art before studying mosaics in Ravenna. Back in London she went to the Central School of Art and Design and got a grant to study sculpture for three years in Rome at the Accademia di Belle Arti and the Scuola d'Arte della Medaglia. Finally, she studied at the Royal College of Art with John Stezaker and Eduardo Paolozzi and got her degree in 1995 before becoming a teacher herself and working in various schools.
Jane McAdam Freud thus became a sculptor who creates installations but also an artist versed in digital media, and maker of numerous films including Dead or Alive, a representation of the Freudian concept of Condensation (the unconscious amalgamation of images from the affect, notably at the origin of dreams), that was broadcast internationally in 2008.
Ironically in light of her childhood, the whole of her artistic work has actually been directly connected to psychoanalytic theory, which she has studied in depth in various publications and at conferences:
'I work at the edges where art and psychoanalysis meet, examining conflicting or contrasting sides of subjects and objects both formally and philosophically. I play with ideas and language with an interdisciplinary approach.'
Beyond this powerful conceptual legacy, Jane McAdam draws her inspiration from the remarkable antique collection brought together by her illustrious great-grandfather as well as over the course of her own career. Split between the need to make her own name for herself and the desire to resume a relationship with this father whose rejection she feared, the young artist found herself nudged by fate when she received an award in 1991 that obliged her to publicly reveal her ancestry. From then, she embraced her new identity and after so many years of separation met up with her father, the intensity of whose 'exulting but exhausting' gaze immediately struck her. She soon asked him to pose for her and for a year each of them sculpted the other.
Slowly she rediscovered this father with whom she shared an intense gaze and the concern to capture the truth of the model. Undoubtedly it is what encouraged her to get him to pose for her several times. In 2001 she received a commission for a portrait in the form of a medal and wanted to use him as a model, but judging that it was a question of a memento mori, he accepted only at the end of his life: and each time they met, it was the opportunity to get to know each other better and to deepen their relationship. When he was close to death, she created a sculpture as an act of remembrance which she described as a triptych: one profile shows him with an eye closed, the other with the eye wide open – the face he adopted when he painted, she said – whilst from in front he looks quite ferocious. He liked the work and urged her to exhibit it in public despite her reticence. Just several months before his death, Jane McAdam Freud started reproducing the image of her father in various forms, admitting later that this was necessary for her to be able to get through the grieving process. Thus she created a great variety of portraits, from intimate drawings, copper medals, small heads in copper, in clay, all the way to the giant terracotta head reflected in a mirror (eg Earthstone Triptych).
Jane McAdam Freud says she was influenced first by her teachers John Stezaker and Eduardo Paolozzi, then by various spheres of influence ranging from John Baldessari to Louise Bourgeois, yet her work remains deeply impregnated by her family legacy. In 2015, for her installation Mother Mould, she no longer resorted to solid materials like earth or bronze to mould figures that are directly accessible, but instead used wire netting, which is both fragile and resistant, to create large-scale forms that are not directly identifiable, signifying the subtle and diffuse nature of dramas that are played out on earth: messy human relationships, the omnipotence of desire, short-sighted satisfaction, distorted perceptions of the present.
Jane McAdam Freud's work is represented in large public collections throughout the world, including the British Museum in London (since 1979), the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, the Pushkin Museum of Fine Art in Moscow, the Berlin State Museum, the Rijksmuseum in Leiden (Holland), the Pulitzer Foundation in Saint Louis (Missouri), the National Museum in Copenhagen (Denmark), the National Gallery of Greece, the National Museum in Prague and the Carnegie Museum of Art in New York.
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Art works from Jane McAdam Freud
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