Sigmund Freud and Human Narcissism

The theme of the exhibition (Alles zerfällt. Schweizer Kunst von Böcklin bis Vallotton) is Sigmund Freud’s 1917 essay on the three infringements of human narcissism. According to Freud, three scientific discoveries have fundamentally shaken humanity’s understanding of itself: Copernican cosmology, Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution and Freud’s own theory of the unconscious. What Freud describes in his essay is the discovery that man is not the centre of the universe and does not rule either nature or himself.

The theme of the exhibition is the mood of uncertainty, the disillusionment with the controllability of but also the flight from the world and the longing for the marvelous. The exhibition shows Swiss art from this period in the 19th and early 20th centuries, including major works by Ferdinand Hodler, Arnold Böcklin, Paul Klee, Félix Vallotton, Cuno Amiet and Alexandre Calame and works by lesser-known artists such as Annie Stebler-Hopf or Clara von Rappard. The exhibition is thematic and sheds light on human uncertainty in relation to scientific discoveries.