The Pompidou Centre in Paris is showing off the treasures from one of its richest collections with ‘Surrealism and the Object’.
They include Dali’s ‘The Lobster Telephone’ and ‘Aphrodisiac Jacket’ (1936), Man Ray’s ‘Indestructible Object (1923), Victor Brauner’s ‘Wolf Table’, (1947), and Giacometti’s ‘Surrealist Table’ (1933).
There also works from, among others, Ernst, Miro, and Duchamp,
Surrealism was at first a literary movement, experimenting with language free from conscious control. This soon extended to the plastic arts, photography and cinema, and exploded outwards from the-then world capital of the arts, Paris.
“Andre Breton once said that the surrealist objects are expressions of materialised dreams. They are a sort of parasite, objects that will disturb our relation with the reality. They are here to introduce a discordant element into reality. A disruptive element that will rip the curtain off reality and unveil what interests the Surrealists, which is – desire, the unconscious, and fantasy,” said curator Didier Ottinger.
Crown Prince of them all was Marcel Duchamp.
“It was Marcel Duchamp himself who organised and directed the surrealist exhibitions after 1938. He created sets that we used to call ‘ghost trains’ at the time. And the critics called these surrealist exhibitions ‘amusement parks’. So it was revolutionary at that time and it fascinated the audience. In the 1930s the Surrealist exhibitions could have 50,000 visitors, it was incredible. So Surrealism was the first movement that was able to establish a link between artists and what we could call the wider public,” explained Ottinger.
Surrealism introduced concepts of liberation and psychological techniques to art, and paid homage to Giorgio De Chirico as the founder of the surrealist aesthetic. Automatism would replace the will and the conscious mind.
America especially took note; automatism drives Jackson Pollock’s Action Painting, and Pop Art shares the Surrealists’ interest in objects. Surrealism is one of art’s most influential movements, and this excellent overview runs until March 3 2014.