Beyond Realism at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art is launching this month, featuring fantastical works by Leonora Carrington, Salvador Dalí and René Magritte.
A brilliant accompaniment to the Edinburgh gallery's major summer exhibition Cut and Paste | 400 Years of Collage, it provides insight into the time and place which formed the backdrop for so many experimental collage works of the early 20th century.
Founded by the poet André Breton in 1924, Surrealism was one of the most radical art movements of the 20th Century. It sought to challenge conventions through the exploration of the subconscious mind, invoking the power of dreams and elements of chance with unexpected and fantastical juxtapositions.
The germ of Surrealism lies in Dada, which sprang up in several cities almost simultaneously during the First World War. Dada artists discussed their passion for the irrational and the nonsensical in terms of a rejection of the bankrupt political, cultural and nationalistic values which, they argued, had created the war in the first place.
With over 40 works by 17 artists, Beyond Realism explores the two principal forms of Surrealist work. The first form is unpremeditated art that relies upon chance effects such as random mark-making and scraping – the type of work practised by artists like Joan Miró (1893-1983). The second form is the creation of apparently irrational images that occurred to the mind, particularly in dreams, in a realistic style. This route was favoured by artists like Toyen (1902-1980) and Paul Delvaux (1897-1994). Other artists like Max Ernst (1891-1976) combined both approaches in their work.
Beyond Realism runs from 15 June at Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art (Modern One) in Edinburgh. Discover more at nationalgalleries.org.
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