The exhibition Surrealism Beyond Borders considers the international breadth of the Surrealist movement, looking at how the art movement spiralled outwards from its Parisian origins.
The show opens at the Metropolitan Museum of Art this month before travelling to Tate Modern in February next year. In New York, it will span eight galleries and hundreds of works from more than 40 countries. Familiar pieces by pioneers of the movement including Max Ernst and Giorgio de Chirico will be presented alongside lesser-known artists such as the Portuguese poet and artist Artur Cruzeiro Seixas and the Argentine painter Antonio Berni, whose work Landru in the Hotel, Paris (1932) serves as an example of its popularity in South America.
“Surrealism is inherently dynamic and has travelled and evolved from place to place and time to time,” says Stephanie D’Alessandro, the Met curator who co-organised the exhibition with Matthew Gale, a senior curator-at-large at the Tate Modern. “Its scope is—and always has been—transnational, extending across borders to unite ideas and people while also remaining specific and local in its liberatory drive.”
Among some of the key works, the show includes the monumental Night Flight of Dread and Delight (1964) by the Ethiopian-Armenian painter Skunder Boghossian, in which the artist merged his experience of the Black diaspora with Surrealism and stylistic influences from artists such as Roberto Matta. Several other examples, such as works by the Japanese painter Koga Harue and the Guatemalan artist Carlos Mérida, demonstrate how artists around the world interpreted the movement after its inception in the 1920s and made it their own.
“Surrealism remains urgent, especially as it represents an invitation to imagine a position beyond what is presently circumscribed in our own moment of political and social instability marked by a pandemic, economic hardship, social unrest, exile and displacement, and growing nationalism, isolationism and repression,” D’Alessandro says. “The great writer and Surrealist, Suzanne Césaire, poignantly called Surrealism the ‘tightrope of our hope’ in 1943.”
• Surrealism Beyond Borders, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York,
11 October-30 January 2022; Tate Modern, London, 24 February-29 August 2022