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Mathes, B. (2017). Talk to Me: Sigmund Freud's Desk: An Anecdoted Guide By Ro Spankie Freud Museum, London, 2015; ISBN 978-0-948-687-36-5.. DIVISION/Rev., 16:11.

(2017). DIVISION/Review, 16:11

Talk to Me: Sigmund Freud's Desk: An Anecdoted Guide By Ro Spankie Freud Museum, London, 2015; ISBN 978-0-948-687-36-5.

Review by:
Bettina Mathes, Ph.D.

A delight to receive the book in the mail: the muted yet bright red color, the handsome format (17 x 24 cm) and the velvety softness of the hard (but not too hard) cover appeal to the touch and the eye. Pleasure! The clean modernist design and the high quality photographic reproductions appeal to the art historian in me. Satisfaction! I am grateful that the Freud Museum reconsidered its initial offer to send a pdf of the book for review. That much is certain; Ro Spankie's book is a beautiful object to place on my desk.

This book about one of the most famous desks of the 20th century and the 65 individual objects placed on it immediately arouses interest—not only among psychoanalysts. Freud's Desk offers spectacular close-ups of the items most visitors to the Freud Museum at 20 Maresfield Gardens, London, UK have only seen in passing, or from afar: the family of antique figurines (39 of them), his ashtrays, matchholder, nail file, toothbrush, magnifying glass, pen, penbox, notepad, and spectacles. Each object occupies a double page spread with the right page featuring a photograph of the object against a white backdrop and the left page offering cataloguing information (size, material, age) and a map indicating the object's location on the desk as well as anecdotes about the object's provenance and usage. In this, Freud's Desk is an art catalogue like any other, advertising the Freud Museum's possession of valuable objects.

But Spankie, who is a designer and researcher at the University of Westminster in London, aims for more.

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