16th June 2006 at 01:00
The writings of Sigmund Freud had a profound influence on the work of many artists at the turn of the century. As with psychoanalysis, Surrealistic painting and writing explore the inner depths of the unconscious mind.

The more specific Freudian overtones in the work of Max Ernst - see "Mankind Shall Know Nothing of It" (1917) - were stimulated by a visit by Andre Breton to Freud in Vienna. Breton founded the Surrealism movement in his Manifesto, which emphasised "the omnipotence of dreams" and symbolism, though it is said that Freud believed the Surrealists to be "quite mad".

Show pupils the work of Max Ernst and his 'frottage' technique; they can collect a range of disparate images and assemble them imaginatively as a dream-like montage.

Use these images as a basis for a final painted work that synthesises the elements in one medium. Alternatively, run a "stop-frame" animation film-making project, in the style of the work of the Monty Python cartoonist, Terry Gilliam.

Experiences in childhood had a radical effect on the work of Edvard Munch, particularly the early death of his mother and sister.

His most famous work is "The Scream", but there are also several versions of "The Sick Child" which express the feelings of his subjects.

Can pupils make portraits which seem to show intense inner preoccupations?

Another controversial artist, Egon Schiele, from Vienna, painted nudes that are harshly expressive as well as erotic; he is likely to have known about Freud's views. Though it would be unwise to specifically explore the sexual dimension of his work, students can talk about, and then paint, self-portraits that express their feelings about the stresses of their culture and existence, such as exams, bullying or alienation from classmates, thus directly relating to the many artists who use art for expressive purposes.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today