Portrait of a Life: Melanie Klein and the Artists Author - Roger Amos
Melanie Klein was a Viennese psychoanalyst who extended the work of Sigmund Freud in significant and innovative ways. She lived and worked in the UK from 1926 until her death in 1959. During her life she was a controversial and divisive figure and has remained so since her death; conflict between the Freudian and Kleinian strands of psychoanalysis dominated the history of psychoanalysis in the latter half of the twentieth century. The reasons why she polarised opinion are multiple and complex; partly they were related to her psychoanalytic ideas and how she expressed them but they were also intrinsic to her personality.
In 2016, a pair of delicate low relief sculptures of Melanie Klein in profile were re-discovered, having been hidden away for some eighty years, and have been subsequently identified as the work of the sculptor Oscar Nemon. Roger Amos was asked to write a brief article about these sculptures for publication on the Melanie Klein Trust website. During his research, he discovered that Klein had destroyed two significant works of art depicting herself: one a bust by the same sculptor as the low relief profiles, Oscar Nemon, and the other a portrait by William Coldstream.
This beautifully illustrated book is the first comprehensive review of all attempts to portray Klein during her lifetime, from her earliest childhood until her old age, including the work of painters, sculptors, and portrait photographers. It reviews the history of each artistic project and the relationship between Klein and the artist involved, locating them in a narrative of Klein’s life. The complex and interrelated reasons why she chose to destroy some of the representations of herself but kept others are identified and discussed. Through an understanding of the subject/artist relationship, Amos illuminates Klein’s professional life in the world of psychoanalysis.