PERELMAN BUILDING | THE PHILADELPHIA MUSEUM OF ART
THURSDAY. For the first time in its history, the Philadelphia Museum of Art presents a major survey of Surrealism. The exhibition promises a glimpse into another world featuring Dalí’s ominous Soft Construction with Boiled Beans (Premonition of Civil War), photographs and sculptures by Man Ray, the entwined limbs of Dorothea Tanning’s Rainy Day Canape, and a pair of Schiaparelli leopard print booties.
For a complete view of the images or to order prints and digital downloads from this event please select this link or the “Oct 31, 2013 Preview The Surrealist at the PMA” album in the right column of this photo weblog.
Works from the Collection, currently on view at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, highlights some of the less visible works in the museum’s collection. It uncovers artists that were rarely shown, as well as less-known works by some big names, such as collages by Jean Arp and Joan Miró’s sculpture Object (1932).
André Breton, who wrote the manifesto in 1924, believed that Surrealism could start a revolution. By exploring dreams, taboos, and the subconscious, artists challenged rational thoughts and traditional norms. As one of the most diverse groups and longest movements in the last century, Surrealism did not have a single look and a central concern. The artists practiced their own styles in response to the circumstances. “It is all about diversity and individuality,” said John Vick, the curator of the exhibition.
Beginning from the Parisian origins of the Surrealist movement, the first gallery presents works that played with the idea of chance. Artists experimented with a variety of approaches in order to obtain unexpected results. Max Ernst would scrape color pigments on the canvas and see what comes out of it. Animal Caught in a Trap (1929) by André Masson is an example of automatic painting. In both cases, the artists would take more active roles only after the paints reveal themselves as more obvious forms.
With the outbreak of the Second World War, the center of the Surrealist movement shifted to New York. Dorothea Tanning’s self-portrait Birthday (1942) created a sense of strangeness with the exotic garb, the fantastic creature, and the never-ending recession of doors. Philadelphia-born artists, such as Man Ray and Leon Kelly, also explored the realm of the surreal through various media. Motifs relating to body and nature, such as eyes, animals, and insects, became more and more prevalent.
“This is a case where we shop in our own closet,” said Matthew Affron, the museum’s newly arrived curator of modern art, “and luckily, our closet is fantastic.” The Surrealists: Works from the Collection is on view through March 2, 2014