British Surrealism on display

A memorable excursus through the most notable painters of British Surrealism will be on display at the Dulwich Picture Gallery. The exhibition will include over 30 artists who influenced the evocative painting of the following centuries. Among them, there will be remarkable artworks signed by Eileen Agar, John Armstrong, Francis Bacon, Edward Burra, Leonora Carrington, Henry Moore, Paul Nash, and Graham Sutherland.

The show is built as a journey at the discovery of the concept of the unconscious. The elusive worlds and fascinating scenarios at the base of the Surrealist art movement will be represented by the gallery through 70 features artworks between paintings, sculptures, and prints from 1783 to 1952.

Surrealist painting, exploration of the unconscious

Marion Adnams The Distraught Infanta, British Surrealism
Marion Adnams “The distraught infanta”

In the twentieth century, along with the discoveries of Freud’s psychology, many artists tried to incorporate the new, revolutionary concept of the unconscious into their own work. Surrealism in painting succeeded particularly in the intent by using the dream as a key creative tool. 

In 1924, André Breton wrote the manifesto of Surrealism. The theorist insisted particularly on the necessity to merge the two realities that characterize human life, that of waking and one of the dreams.

Basically, the artists who adhered to the current of Surrealism can be divided into two major blocks. The first used unusual combinations. By merging different elements belonging to distinct and separate categories these artists created worlds impossible to reconcile with the reality.

The second tendency consisted of unreal deformations. These painters distorted and twisted elements belonging to the real world, turning them into something else. The result is a surprising and mysterious art, that doesn’t recognize the rigor of logic.

Dulwich Picture Gallery presenting British Surrealism

leonora carrington
Leonora Carrington “The Giantess” 1947

The exhibition at the Dulwich Picture Gallery is designed to start from the concept of the dream and then drag the viewer into a mysterious path whose ultimate goal is the irrational and the absurd.

The first area of ​​the exhibition will include Armstrong’s Heaviness of Sleep (1938) and Burra’s nightmarish Dancing Skeletons (1934). In the following areas, it will be possible to get lost in the evocative imagery of Marion Adnams and Edith Rimmington to then get to Carroll’s illogical worlds.

In a constant emphasis on the imaginative importance of art, the gallery wants to give an overview of a current that characterized the painting of the 20th century. Also, it wants to exalt the irrational foundations at the base of English Surrealism.

Curator David Boyd Haycock said about the project:

Over the past decade, the significance of modern British art has been increasingly recognized by curators and collectors. Surrealism, meanwhile, was probably the most exciting, transgressive and bizarre art movement of the twentieth century. Its impact on a wide range of British artists was enormous. It is an appropriate moment to expose new audiences to its roots in British culture and its significant influence.

The exhibition will be on display from the 26th of February 2020 until the 17th of May 2020.

See All Articles
Dimension Unit