Art and Psychoanalysis: From da Vinci to Damien Hirst


This series of lectures will explore the various ways in which the evolving techniques of psychoanalysis have been applied to the study of the visual arts. Examples will range from Freud’s pioneering analyses of the paintings of Leonardo da Vinci, and the sculptures of Michelangelo; to the ground-breaking work of Jacques Lacan, Slavoj Žižek, Julia Kristeva or Parveen Adams.

Questions to be addressed will include the presence of repressed or overt sexuality in art; how traumas within the artist’s own life can find covert expression in the artworks which he or she produces; and how our own psychology, as viewers of paintings or sculptures, influences the ways in which we see, respond to, and interpret those artworks. What can psychoanalysis add to our appreciation of paintings and sculptures? And how can the psychoanalysis of the visual arts contribute to our understanding of the historical eras within which past and present day artists have lived and worked? Artists whose work will be featured include: Rembrandt, Munch, Holbein, Goya, Caravaggio and Damien Hirst.

Each lecture will centre around one particular painting or sculpture: and will seek to understand and explain the ways in which prominent psychoanalysts have analysed and interpreted that artwork. In this way it is hoped that we will come to see and appreciate familiar works of art in new and insightful ways.

Please note: this series of lectures will close to enrolments at 23:59 UTC on 21 January 2024.

Programme details

Lecture programme

Lectures take place on Wednesdays, from 2–3.15pm UTC (GMT).

Wednesday 24 January 2024
Introduction: Freud and da Vinci

Wednesday 31 January 2024
Caravaggio: A Lacanian perspective

Wednesday 7 February 2024
The Self and the gaze: Rembrandt's self-portraits

Wednesday 14 February 2024
Surrealism and psychoanalysis: Ernst and Dalí 

Wednesday 21 February 2024
Abjection and the Lacanian Real: Damien Hirst and the body in contemporary art

Wednesday 28 February 2024
Goya's Caprichos and the 'Sleep of Enlightenment reason'

How and when to watch

Each lecture will last approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour, followed by questions.

For those attending in person at Rewley House, registration takes place at 1.45pm before the first lecture (24 January only). Tea and coffee are provided in the Common Room after each lecture, from 3.15pm.

For those joining us online, please join in good time before each lecture to ensure that you have no connection problems. We recommend joining 10-15 minutes before the start time.



Description Costs
Course Fee - in-person attendance (includes tea/coffee) £155.00
Course Fee - virtual attendance £140.00


If you are in receipt of a UK state benefit or are a full-time student in the UK you may be eligible for a reduction of 50% of tuition fees.

Concessionary fees for short courses


Dr David Morgan

David Morgan has taught art and architectural history for the Department since 2004. He has also taught courses for Birkbeck College, University of London, and for the WEA. His recent publications have centred upon the history of British visual satire.


Please use the 'Book' button on this page. Alternatively, please contact us to obtain an application form.

IT requirements

For those joining us online

We will be using Zoom for the livestreaming of this lecture series. If you’re attending online, you’ll be able to see and hear the speakers, and to submit questions via the Zoom interface. Joining instructions will be sent out prior to the start date. We recommend that you join the session at least 10-15 minutes prior to the start time – just as you might arrive a bit early at our lecture theatre for an in-person event.

Please note that this course will not be recorded.