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February 24, 2024

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Pudong museum sheds light on ‘convulsive beauty’ of Surrealism

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the publication of the “Surrealist Manifesto,” written by poet André Breton.

The Museum of Art Pudong is holding “Fantastic Visions: 100 Years of Surrealism from the National Galleries of Scotland,” featuring more than 100 major works by over 50 artists, including some of the world’s most important Surrealists such as Salvador Dalí, René Magritte, Max Ernst, Joan Miró, Leonora Carrington and Dorothea Tanning.

All the works come from the collection of the National Galleries of Scotland, ranging from painting, sculpture, paper rubbings, collage and photography to manuscripts and books.

Surrealism, one of the most influential art movements of the 20th century, is known for unleashing imagination and unconventional means of expression.

The rise in Surrealism was a response to the horrors of war and the ongoing threats presented by the modern world. Artists resorted to psychic automatism, emphasizing the importance of the subconscious mind in artistic creation.

Inspired by the psychoanalytic writings of Sigmund Freud, Surrealist artists gave up conventional techniques and explored the subconscious.

Dadaism and Surrealism laid a foundation for later emerging movements such as Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art.

The exhibition is divided into three periods: “1916-1929 From Dada to Surrealism,” “1930-1938 Surrealism Expands” and “1939-Late 20th Century Surrealism in Exile and The Post-War Period.”

The exhibition sheds light on the “convulsive beauty,” as Breton put it.

“Lobster Telephone” by Dalí and Edward James, one of the most celebrated works of Surrealist art, is an example of “assisted ready-mades:” an ordinary object altered in a specific way to give it a whole new meaning.

Another exhibit, Dalí’s painting “Raphaelesque Head Exploding,” demonstrates his “paranoiac-critical method” for reinterpreting reality. His route to the subconscious involved conscious misreading of reality, overturned the accepted understanding of the world by taking paranoid delusions seriously.

Magritte used a uniquely heightened realism to depict a Surrealist world. In “The Magic Mirror,” he explored the complex and multilayered relationship between words and images. The appearance of the French words corps humain (human body) in the work suggests an enigmatic interplay between images and words.



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