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The Surrealists: Works from the Collection

November 3, 2013–March 2, 2014

This exhibition provides an account of Surrealism as told through the museum's unique collection of great masterpieces and lesser-known works of the movement, as well as its deep holdings of period journals, catalogues, and archival material. Bringing together a diverse and exceptional group of more than seventy paintings, sculptures, photographs, drawings, prints, and books, the exhibition will highlight the inspired minds and imaginations of the most celebrated Surrealists—including Salvador Dalí, Roberto Matta, Joan Miró, and Dorothea Tanning, among others—while offering a wide-ranging view of the movement in general.

Surrealism was founded in Paris in 1924 by a group of young writers and artists seeking to reinvent literature and the visual arts by aligning their own creative processes with contemporary investigations of the human psyche. They explored memory, fantasy, and the uncanny realm of dreams to reveal the secreted visions of the subconscious, while embracing automatic writing and drawing, coincidence, and unexpected associations so that chance could contend with reason. Organized around the movement's de facto leader, the French poet André Breton, these revolutionary individuals aspired to forge in their works, and even society at large, a new "absolute reality, a surreality."

This exhibition is designed around the movement's changing historic and geographic conditions. It will begin with Surrealism's early development in Paris in the 1920s, continue through the 1930s with its rising profile as a dominant force in the European avant-garde, and end with the transatlantic activities that characterized the years during and after World War II. With work by more than forty artists, plus examples of the many art and literary publications central to the Surrealist exchange, this exhibition will present a fantastic survey of what is arguably the most cohesive and long-lasting—yet equally idiosyncratic and varied—movement of the twentieth century.

Main Building


The exhibition is supported in part by the Arlin and Neysa Adams Endowment.


John Vick, Project Curatorial Assistant, Modern & Contemporary Art; and MatthewAffron, The Muriel and Philip Berman Curator of Modern Art

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