01.07 - 30.09 2012
Museum of Contemporary Art, Andros
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
In terms of the geometry of art, the Andros-based Museum of Contemporary Art of the Basil and Elise Goulandris Foundation is to be found this summer “above and beyond the real”. This extraordinary convention concerns one of the most important and most subversive art movements of the twentieth century, namely Surrealism. The exhibition is eloquently titled Approaching Surrealism. Starting on July 1, the museum's spaces host a thematic tribute to the movement that protested and attacked what was until then considered “well and good” in art. […]
[…] This movement that has been alive for over nine decades now rocked the art establishment to its very foundations leaving a mark that was as deep as it was immediately recognizable even to the untrained eye. Starting tomorrow MOCA, Andros, of the Basil and Elise Goulandris Foundation, a museum whose exhibitions set the tone for summer art events throughout the country, explores the geography of that movement through works by its major exponents.
[…] This retrospect on a revolutionary movement of protest–an ambitious one to be sure, considering the sheer breadth of its subject matter, though necessarily bound by the limitations of a small museum on the periphery–is being organized at a time of profound crisis and is for this itself an opportunity to rethink and redetermine the meaning of the principles and values we adhere to […]
Who needs to view an exhibition tracing the development of a cultural movement when we’re real-life subjects of what appears to be a surrealistic experiment? This is the question that automatically comes to mind when you walk through the doors of the Basil & Elise Goulandris Foundation’s Museum of Contemporary Art on the island of Andros to take in the elegant institution’s annual summer exhibition –a fascinating tribute to Surrealism.
[…] At a time when the need for surrealism's edgy outlook seems more imperative than ever before, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Andros, of the Basil and Elise Goulandris Foundation follows the movement's trail from Paris to Greece in a tribute titled “Approaching Surrealism” […] World-famous artists and writers reveal the world and are in turn revealed through artworks and invaluable archival material.
[…] A passion for subversion that we seem to need today with unparalleled urgency, as endless as the waves we see breaking fearlessly on the rocky shore just a short distance from this wonderful sanctuary of culture on the island of Andros. Andreas Embeirikos was right: “Our life's purpose is the branded fleece of our existence”. We need only pursue it, in what would be quite the surrealist act.
[…] One might wonder why looking back to that tumultuous and fecund age which gave birth to this movement of the avant-garde should be so important. At such a critical time as this it is especially worth taking a trip to that distant, or perhaps not-so-distant, past when artists would have changed the face of the world. The Andros show is a wake-up call as viewers find themselves confronted with historic figures from surrealism's roster and the movement's chief organizers […]
[…] It becomes clear that this material (on display in the show) not only points to the actual lifting of boundaries between poetry and visual discourse, but also helps the contemporary mind to better grasp that sweeping and massively diverse art movement. It further proves that the surrealist worldview has an impact on contemporary life that far surpasses artistic expression […]