This ground-breaking exhibition at Tate Modern explores the wide range of this radical Surrealism movement, which very quickly moved beyond the confines of a single time or place. Based on extensive research undertaken by Tate and The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the exhibition spans 80 years and 50 countries to show how Surrealism inspired and united artists around the globe, from centres as diverse as Buenos Aires, Cairo, Lisbon, Mexico City, Prague, Seoul and Tokyo. Expanding our understanding of Surrealism, Tate Modern will show how this dynamic movement took root in many places at different times, offering artists the freedom to challenge authority and imagine a new world.
Surrealism had its origins in Paris in the 1920s, Surrealism prioritised the unconscious and dreams using humorous works like Salvador Dalí’s Lobster Telephone to René Magritte’s train rushing from a fireplace to challenge views of reality. It soon was used by artists around the world as a serious weapon in the struggle for political, social, and personal freedom.
The exhibition feates over 150 works ranging from painting and photography to sculpture and film, many of which have never been shown in the UK, this exhibition explores the collective interests shared by artists across regions and considers the conditions under which they worked and how this in turn impacted Surrealism. Among the rarely seen works are photographs by Cecilia Porras and Enrique Grau, as well as paintings by exiled Spanish artist Eugenio Granell.
Visitors will see iconic paintings such as Max Ernst’s Two Children are Threatened by a Nightingale 1924 alongside lesser known but significant works including Antonio Berni’s Landru in the Hotel, Paris 1932, which appeared in the artist’s first exhibition of Surrealist works in Argentina, and Toshiko Okanoue’s Yobi-goe (The Call) 1954, addressing the daily experience of post-war Japan. Photographs by Hans Bellmer focusing on the female body are contrasted with Ithell Colquhoun’s Scylla 1938 a double image exploring female desire and works by both French Surrealist Claude Cahun and Sri-Lankan-based artist Lionel Wendt.
The exhibition also considers the locations around the world where artists have converged and exchanged ideas of Surrealism. From Paris at the Bureau of Surrealist Research; to Cairo, with the Art et Liberté group; across the Caribbean, where the movement was initiated by writers; in Mexico City, where it was shaped by the creative bonds of women artists; and Chicago, where Surrealism was used as a tool for radical politics. Special loans including the photographs of Limb Eung-Sik and Jung Haechang from Korea and a film by Len Lye from New Zealand, will offer further insight into the adaption of Surrealism across the globe. For the first time in the UK, Ted Joans’ 36-foot drawing, Long Distance 1976-2005 will go on display, featuring 132 contributors from around the world. Accompanying Joans on his travels, this cadavre exquis (exquisite corpse) drawing took nearly 30 years to complete and united artists located as far apart as Lagos and Toronto.
Surrealism Beyond Borders is organised by Tate Modern and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
For more information or to book tickets, visit the Tate Modern website here
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