"Surrealism Beyond Borders"
Surrealism is one of the best known movements in Modern Art. Undoubtedly to the horror of its creators, surrealistic images have become incorporated into mass culture and artists such as Rene Magritte and Salvador Dali are universally popular. The dream-like and sometimes humorous images appeal to many people, especially young adults. Major exhibitions of Surrealism attract thousands of viewers.
This exhibition, organized by the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Tate Modern, seeks to take a fresh look at this movement. It seeks to show that the movement was much broader than usually thought, both geographically and chronically. The exhibition presents works from 45 countries done over eight decades.
Although surrealistic images such as the paintings of Hieronymus Bosch were being created hundreds of years before, Surrealism as a movement is usually said to have been born in October 1924 with the publication of a manifesto by Andre Breton. Interested in the workings of the unconscious mind, Breton and his colleagues looked to revolutionize human experience by exposing the false rationality of conventions and modern society.
The movement began in Paris, France and is often thought of as being European. However, as this exhibition demonstrates, the movement's ideas spread rapidly across the globe. This geographic expansion accelerated in the 1930s and 1940s as Surrealists fled Europe to escape the rise of Fascism and the subsequent Nazi occupation. This led to an influx of Surrealists into the United States where they influenced the course of art, especially Abstract Expressionism.
The United States was not the only place where Surrealism flourished. Centers of Surrealism developed in Cairo, the Caribbean, Australia, and Mexico. Associated from its early days with anarchism and communism, Surrealism became associated with political and social revolution. Over time, however, it became more associated with feelings of alienation from modern society.
The exhibition includes works by major artists such as Magritte, Dali, Max Ernst, and Joan Miro. However, displayed next to the big names are works by lesser known artists who were involved in the Surrealism movement.
Usually, the Golden Age of Surrealism is said to be the 1930s. However, the exhibition shows that Surrealism continued through the second half of the 20th century. Indeed, Ted Joans' 36-foot drawing shows that the movement's influence continued into the new millennium.
This is a vast exhibition. It includes not only paintings and drawings but also sculptures, films, radio shows, and various Surrealism-related publications. Furthermore, in order to show the breadth of the movement, it covers a large number of ideas. Some may appear dated and naïve but others remain intriguing either from an artistic or an historical viewpoint. It is difficult to take it all in in just one visit.
Above: Rene Magritte's "La duree poignardee".
Below: Sir Roland Penrose, "The Last Voyage o Captain Cook."
Above: Joan Miro "68"
Art review - Metropolitan Museum of Art - "Surrealism Beyond Borders"