Approaching Surrealism

In the summer of 2012, the Basil and Elise Goulandris Foundation presented at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Andros a thematic tribute to Surrealism, one of the greatest and most subversive art movements of the past century. Surrealism was a movement of protest set to challenge all that had been the accepted norm mainly in the art of verse, and by implication also in the visual arts. Rather than evolving into an aesthetic school, it focused all its energies and aspirations on inventing ways through which to change life itself, concerned as it was not with aesthetic beauty but with the dynamics of the spirit.

Surrealism was born of a complete surrender to the power of impulse and the dream, to automatic writing and paradox, to the creative imagination and those repressed forces of the mind, and challenged iconographic convention and the established cultural mores of postwar societies with unmitigated ferocity.

Understandably, a visual event with all its intrinsic limitations cannot possibly exhaust the ideological breadth and rich iconography of that massively iconoclastic movement of the avant-garde (the most popular of its kind since impressionism, as it turns out). As its title emphatically suggested, the exhibition was aiming to approach and in turn communicate the message of an art that was bold enough to walk down the uncharted pathways of the soul and so to open up new horizons; an art that passed from being the object of dismissive irony, from an early stage of vagueness and fluidity, of quasi totalitarianism and political dispute followed by purges of some of the movement’s founding members, to achieving recognition and wide social appeal and even having some degree of influence on social and cultural behaviors. Even the name of that art, Surrealism, a term invented by coincidence, has long since transcended its purely literary and artistic function and has found its way into everyday speech to suggest the uncanny or paradoxical, the extraordinary within the ordinary.

With as many as 100 exhibits, including collages, paintings, and sculptures, constructions, prints, and photographs, as well as highly relevant archival material, the exhibition offered visitors the opportunity to ‘approach surrealism’ through the work of both international and Greek artists.

The event consisted of two sections. The first, which was the exhibition’s core section, was dealing with historical Surrealism and its formative impact on twentieth-century sensibility, bringing together works by approximately twenty artists and archival material pertaining both to founding members and latecomers to the movement. The second section attempted an approach of the literary and visual achievements of the Greek surrealists.

Exhibits by 30 international and Greek artists were presented: Jean Arp (1886-1966), Hans Bellmer (1902-1975), Victor Brauner (1903-1966), André Breton (1896-1966), Giorgio de Chirico (1888-1978), Salvador Dalí (1904-1989), Paul Delvaux (1897-1994), Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968), Max Ernst (1891-1976), André Masson (1896-1987), Roberto Matta (1911-2002), Joan Miró (1893-1983), Méret Oppenheim (1913-1985), Wolfgang Paalen (1905-1959), Francis Picabia (1879-1953), Man Ray (1890-1976), Wifredo Lam (1902-1982), René Magritte (1898-1967), Mayo (1905-1990), Kurt Schwitters (1887-1948), Yves Tanguy (1900-1955), Dorothea Tanning (1910-2012), Marie Wilson (1922-2017), Nanos Valaoritis (1921- ), Nikos Engonopoulos (1907-1985), Odysseus Elytis (1911-1996), Andreas Embiricos (1901-1975), Nicolas Calas (1907-1988), Mario Prassinos (1916-1985), Yerassimos Steris (1898-1987).

Works from the exhibition

About

Basil & Elise Goulandris Foundation Organisation of the Exhibition
Kyriakos Koutsomallis Director - Curator of the Exhibition
Marie Koutsomallis-Moreau Assistant Director
Eleana Margariti Assistant Curator - General Co-ordination
ELIX - Andreas Georgiadis, Paraskevi Gerolymatou Exhibition Graphics and Labelling
Eleni Galani Public Relations and Communications Department
Alexandra Papakostopoulou Administrative Secretary
Dimitrios Kondopoulos Finance Manager
Vangelis Panagiotarakos Network Manager
Eleni Galani, Eleana Margariti Education Programmes
Leonidas Issaris Art-store Manager
Sotiris Piperas Security Services
Michalis Salonikis Facilities Manager
Orphée Beinoglou Transport of Works
G. Karavias & Associates Ltd Insurance