Developed in Vienna at the turn of the century, Sigmund Freud's theories on childhood, sexuality, and the interpretation of dreams have been hugely influential on 20th-century culture and thought. Many artists have approached personal anxieties, memories or experiences in their work through the lens of psychoanalytic theory. Freudian psychoanalysis particularly influenced the Surrealists, who adapted Freud’s practice of free association to the artistic technique of automatism as a way to liberate the unconscious. In contemporary practice, artists like Franz West have examined the cultural resonance of the therapy session in such works as Untitled (1989), a metal couch that conjures the discomfort of recounting traumatic experiences.

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