Gallery  June 4, 2024  Cynthia Close

10 Exhibitions Celebrating a Centennial of Surrealism in 2024-2025

Created: Tue, 06/04/2024 - 10:00
Author: abby
Courtesy of The Modern

A piece from Ja’Tovia Gary's "Citational Ethics" series at The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, 2024.

A woman had to be a monster to be an artist– surrealist painter/sculptor Dorothea Tanning

French writer and cultural theorist André Breton (1896-1966) is credited with authoring the first Surrealist Manifesto in October 1924. Many international museums and galleries have now seized the opportunity to celebrate the 100th anniversary of this movement by mounting exhibitions through 2024 and beyond.

Salvador Dali (1904-1989) may be the first artist that comes to mind at the mention of surrealism. His work can be found in this survey, among other familiar historical icons like Max Ernst (1891-1976) and Giorgio de Chirico (1888-1978). However, many institutions have chosen to introduce lesser known, but equally inspiring, artists— many of them women— whose work explores the unconscious. 

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Wikimedia Commons
Main hall of the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, 2019
1. Imagine! 100 Years of Surrealism

A blockbuster touring exhibition organized by the Royal Museums of Fine Arts Belgium in collaboration with the Centre Pompidou, Paris provides an excellent grounding to thoroughly understand the history of surrealism and its ongoing influence today. 

Imagine! 100 Years of Surrealism continues in Brussels and Paris through July 2024 and will travel to the Hamburger Kunsthalle and the Fundación Mapfré Madrid, before closing at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 2026. 

Dali’s 1936 painting, Soft Construction with Boiled Beans, is owned by the Philadelphia Museum and will also be included in the show. 

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Courtesy of The Magritte Museum, Photo by Cedric Verhelst Art Photography
René Magritte, Ceci n'est pas une pipe (1952)
2. The Magritte Museum

Surrealism got a foothold in Belgium in the late 19th century, and Brussels, the capitol, is still known for being a center for the study of the movement. The Magritte Museum is located in Brussels and presents an outstanding collection of works by Belgian surrealist artist René Magritte (1898-1967).

Although some of Magritte’s most iconic paintings, like The Treachery of Images (1928-29) (also known as "Ceci n'est pas une pipe"/"This is not a pipe"), are held by other institutions and many of his other pieces will be traveling during the centennial, with over 200 works by Magritte, there is still much left to be explored here.

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Courtesy of The Modern
Kenny Rivero, Olafs and Chanclas, 2021
3. Surrealism and Us: Caribbean and African Diasporic Artists Since 1940

Surrealism and Us: Caribbean and African Diasporic Artists Since 1940 at The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, on view through July 28, 2024, is the first intergenerational exhibition on this subject to be held at The Modern. 

The curators were inspired by the essay “1943: Surrealism and Us” by French/Martinique writer Suzanne Césaire (1915-1966), as the exhibition is seen through the lens of Afrofuturism today.   

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Wikimedia Commons
Vitra Design Museum Exterior
4. Objects of Desire: Surrealism & Design

Surrealism had a major impact on the design world. That influence over the last one hundred years is explored in Objects of Desire: Surrealism & Design at the Museum of Contemporary Design and Applied Arts, Lausanne, Switzerland. 

This exhibition has been organized by the Vitra Design Museum and presents both pioneering works from the 1930s and contemporary projects, bringing together furniture and graphic design, fashion, decoration, and photography. 

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Courtesy of Photo Elysee
Man Ray, Noire et Blanche, 1926 ©Man Ray 2015 Trust 2024, ProLitteris, Zurich
5. Man Ray Liberating Photography

Although the surrealist Man Ray (1890-1976) was born in the United States and started his career as a painter, he spent most of his life in Paris, so we associate him with the French avant-garde. He was close friends with fellow surrealists Andre Breton and Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968) and is known primarily for his Dada/surrealist inflected photography

In the current exhibition, Man Ray Liberating Photography, at the Photo Elysee in Lausanne, Switzerland, some of his most iconic black and white images from a private collection are being presented through August 2024.

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Wikimedia Commons, Stefan Drößler
Ventilation pipes on Place Georges Pompidou opposite the main entrance of the Centre Pompidou in Paris.
6. André Masson: There Is No Finished World

André Masson (1896-1987), one of the most innovative artists of the surrealist movement, is credited with developing the technique automatic drawing. This is a vehicle to tap into the unconscious— a necessary requirement to produce surrealist work. 

The Center Pompidou in Paris is presenting a retrospective tracing Masson's career, André Masson: There Is No Finished World. Including over 150 works, many never before exhibited, from important public and private American and European collections, the exhibition runs until September 2, 2024. 

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Wikimedia Commons, United States Library of Congress's Prints and Photographs division
Salvador Dali in Dali Atomicus, photographed by Philippe Halsman, retouched. License
7. Dalí: Disruption and Devotion

No tribute to surrealism would be complete without Salvador Dalí (1904-1989). The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston will deliver a major exhibition, Dalí: Disruption and Devotion, on view from July 6 to December 1, 2024. 

This retrospective will include 30 of Dalí's most iconic images, including Disintegration of the Persistence of Memory (1952–54), along with paintings and prints on loan from the Salvador Dalí Museum. All pieces will be juxtaposed with European masterpieces by El Greco (1541-1614), Orazio Gentileschi (1563-1639), and Velasquez (1599-1660), among others from the MFA's own collection. 

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Image © Yayoi Kusama. Courtesy of David Zwirner, NewYork; Ota Fine Arts
Yayoi Kusama, Infinity Mirrored Room-Love Forever, 1966/1994. Installation view, YAYOI KUSAMA, Le Consortium, Dijon, France, 2000.
8. Long Live Surrealism! 1924-Today

Long Live Surrealism! 1924-Today is another contribution from a Texas institution. The Blanton Museum of Art in Austin will celebrate the centennial from September 7 through December 8, 2024. 

The show draws from the Blanton's collection, in addition to loans of works by Hans Bellmer (1902-1975), Leonora Carrington (1917-2011), Max Ernst (1991-1976), Wilfredo Lam (1902-1982), and Man Ray (1890-1976). 

These classics will be displayed alongside contemporary artists inspired by them, including Yayoi Kusama (1929–), Stephen Robeson Miller (1955–), and American painter Dorothy Hood (1919-2000).

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Wikimedia Commons, Archives Fondation Giacometti © Succession Alberto Giacometti
Alberto Giacometti in black and white, 1950s
9. Alberto Giacometti: Unveiled Surrealism

German painter Max Ernst (1891-1976) was one of the most ardent practitioners of surrealism. The Max Ernst Museum in Brühl, the site of his birth, houses an extensive collection of the artist’s work. 

Ernst was married to fellow surrealist Dorothea Tanning. He also had a relationship with the sculptor Alberto Giacometti (1901-1966) whose work was embraced by other surrealists. Although he is not usually categorized in the movement, the exhibition Alberto Giacometti: Unveiled Surrealism from September 1, 2024 to January 15, 2025 will explore that surprising connection. 

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Wikimedia Commons
Rose Art Museum Interior, 2022
10. Leonor Fini and Leonora Carrington

Explorations of the work of surrealists Leonor Fini (1907-1996) and Leonora Carrington (1917-2011), two feminist visionaries who forged their own paths in life and art, are planned for 2025. 

Leonor Fini: Lo sguardo della sfinge is scheduled for spring 2025 at Palazzo Reale, Milan, Italy. Leonora Carrington: Dream Weaver will be at the Rose Art Museum in Waltham, Massachusetts from January to June 2025. 

Details for these exhibitions are not yet available, but considering Leonora Carrington's surrealist painting Les Distractions de Dagobert (1945) set a new auction record for the artist at $28.5 million (including fees) at Sotheby’s in May 2024, we can assume these exhibitions will generate a great deal of interest.

About the Author

Cynthia Close

Cynthia Close holds a MFA from Boston University, was an instructor in drawing and painting, Dean of Admissions at The Art Institute of Boston, founder of ARTWORKS Consulting, and former executive director/president of Documentary Educational Resources, a film company. She was the inaugural art editor for the literary and art journal Mud Season Review. She now writes about art and culture for several publications.

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