Painting by Salvador Dalí

Salvador Dalí, The Enigma of Wilhelm Tell, 1933 Photo: Albin Dahlström/Moderna Museet © Salvador Dalí, Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation / Bildupphovsrätt 2016

8.9 2020

A Meeting of Opposites – Re-hanging in the Collection

Welcome to a new presentation in the Collection – a room for works from the surrealist movement. Surrealism is a collection of ideas inspired by early-20th century politics, literature, philosophy, science and art. You will encounter works by Man Ray, Louise Bouregois, Hans Bellmer, Max Ernst, Toyen, Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalí, Marcel Duchamp, Giorgio de Chirico, Joan Miró and Ragnar von Holten. Read the texts found in the presentation ”A Meeting of Opposites”.

The surrealist movement began to emerge towards the end of the First World War, in response to Dada, whose members claimed that artists were complicit in the horrific nationalism that led to the mass-slaughter during the war. Unlike the dadaists, the surrealists were not interested in reflecting society but primarily wanted to be free.

In 1924, the poet and author André Breton published the first surrealist manifesto, in which he proclaimed that the mind should be liberated from aesthetic and moral considerations. Breton had studied medicine, and became interested in hypnosis while working as a medical student. A speciality of the surrealists was their way of juxtaposing ideas and objects to prompt unexpected encounters that were not governed by common sense. The quote “as beautiful as the chance encounter of a sewing machine and an umbrella on an operating table” comes from ”Les Chants de Maldoror” (1868), written by the Compte de Lautréamont, the pseudonym of the long-unknown Isidore Ducasse (1846–1870).

Toyen, From 'Débris de Reve', 1967 Photo: Albin Dahlström/Moderna Museet © Toyen / Bildupphovsrätt 2018

Themes such as identity, body and eroticism were deeply interesting to the surrealists. Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalysis had widened debate on the concept of normality, leading to changes in the prevailing taboos regarding dreams and sexuality. Freud’s theories on the unconscious also inspired surrealist automatism, an approach based on spontaneous action, which is also characteristic of surrealist games and absurd humour. The first manifesto was followed by two more, in 1932 and 1942. The surrealist movement experienced renewed popularity in the 1960s, in a more traditional form, before being dissolved in 1969.

Baigneuses au ballon
Pablo Picasso, Baigneuses au ballon, 1928 © Succession Picasso / Bildupphovsrätt 2014
Sculpture by Louise Bourgeois
Louise Bourgeois, Pillar, 1949 © Louise Bourgeois / Bildupphovsrätt 2020


Map of Moderna Museet

Published 8 September 2020 · Updated 22 September 2020