Art museum digs into its own collection for ‘The Surrealists’

Salvador Dalí's "Soft Construction with Boiled Beans (Premonition of Civil War) will be on display in the Philadelphia Museum of Art's "Surrealists" exhibit. Photo: Philadelphia Museum of Art
Salvador Dali’s “Soft Construction with Boiled Beans (Premonition of Civil War)” is included in the surrealism exhibit.
Credit: Philadelphia Museum of Art

Appropriately for a show about the reality-subverting surrealists, the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s new exhibition welcomes visitors with a domestic scene that’s just slightly, unsettlingly off-kilter. There’s a folding screen that doubles as a live story, a Giacometti-designed standing lamp, a pair of Elsa Schiaparelli leopard skin shoes and a Dorothea Tanning sofa with its own half-formed inhabitant built in. On the wall above hangs a portrait by Philadelphia artist Thomas Chimes of poet Guillaume Apollinaire, who coined the term “surrealism.”

This motley collection is the exhibition’s first evidence that, as curator John Vick said during a tour, “It’s impossible to say that surrealism has a single look or a single identifiable style. It’s also impossible to say that there’s one major concern that was central to surrealism throughout its entire lifespan. Really, it’s a movement about diversity, difference and individuality.”

“The Surrealists: Works from the Collection” delves into the museum’s own holdings for about 100 pieces by more than 50 artists and writers. Some of the pieces, such as Giorgio de Chirico’s “The Soothsayer’s Recompense” or Salvador Dali’s “Soft Construction with Boiled Beans (Premonition of Civil War),” are masterpieces regularly showcased on the walls of the PMA. Others, including a pair of collages by Jean Arp and a de Chirico sculpture, have rarely, if ever, been shown.

“This is a case where we’re shopping in our own closet, and luckily our closet is fantastic,” said Matthew Affron, the museum’s newly arrived curator of modern art. “I think it’s a great way to highlight something that’s always here but not always entirely visible.”

The exhibition follows the movement from its birth in France, via Andre Breton’s foundational manifesto, through its arrival in the U.S. following the onset of war in Europe, and its triumphant return to Paris with the 1959 International Surrealist Exhibition.

“Breton and his fellow surrealists put forth the idea that surrealism could initiate a revolution in the arts and literature,” Vick said, “and provoke a revolt against traditional and conservative norms and values. They strove to do so by aligning their methods and their subjects with the then-new science of psychoanalysis, by tapping into the unconscious to challenge rational thought and predictability, and by examining dreams and myths, fantasy, taboos, fears, desires and a host of other influences that would spur them on and manifest in their paintings, sculptures and other works.”

“The Surrealists: Works from the Collection”
Through March 2
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Perelman Building
2525 Pennsylvania Ave.
$14-$20, 215-763-8100
www.philamuseum.org


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Miley Cyrus hospitalized, cancels Kansas concert, condition unknown,…

Singer Miley Cyrus was hospitalized on Tuesday night after suffering what is believed to be 'a severe allergic reaction' to antibiotics medication. The 21-year-old Bangerz…

News

Explosions in new Boston Marathon bomb panic, 'twisted'…

A fresh Boston Marathon terror alert, which caused Bomb Squad officers to order an evacuation while two controlled explosions were carried out, was today being…

National

Reddit boosts news capabilities in social media turf…

By Jennifer SabaNEW YORK (Reuters) - Reddit, a website with a retro-'90s look and space-alien mascot that tracks everything from online news to celebrity Q&As,…

Local

New York joins accord to strengthen popular vote…

New York State joined a nationwide effort that would gives the state's 29 electoral votes for president to the candidate who wins the national popular vote.

Entertainment

Miley Cyrus hospitalized, cancels Kansas concert, condition unknown,…

Singer Miley Cyrus was hospitalized on Tuesday night after suffering what is believed to be 'a severe allergic reaction' to antibiotics medication. The 21-year-old Bangerz…

Television

'Orphan Black's' Jordan Gavaris talks Felix's Season 2…

Jordan Gavaris plays heroically helpful foster sibling Felix to main clone Sarah on "Orphan Black." We talked to him about what’s ahead for him in…

Going Out

Accomplice Tour: New York (Spoiler Alert)

When I signed up for the Accomplice show tour, I had no idea what I was in for. But every grimy job comes with a great reward.

Television

TV watch list, Tuesday, April 15: 'New Girl,'…

'New Girl' Nick and Jess are hiding their breakup from the other loft residents. And Winston passes the police academy exam! That guy needed some…

NBA

Nets miss chance to clinch No. 5 seed…

Nets head coach Jason Kidd expressed little concern after a 109-98 loss to the Knicks, but others seemed to disagree.

NFL

Jets confident despite Chris Johnson leaving with no…

Jets fans clamored for a playmaker on offense all offseason. It looked like they were going to land that player on Tuesday when Chris Johnson…

NBA

Knicks, Nets rivalry never materialized despite national attention

When the NBA schedule was released, the league anticipated an intense rivalry between the Nets and Knicks with all four games slated for national TV.

NBA

NBA Power Rankings: Are the Spurs frauds? Could…

NBA Power Rankings: Are the Spurs frauds? Could the Mavericks surprise?

Home

Steal home decorating tips from Nattystyle blogger Natalie…

Despite the towering ceilings and enviable exposed brick, it’s easy to see how Natalie Decleve’s apartment could be considered a challenge. Perched above the streets…

Home

How to plant a garden in the city

Small on space but big on gardening? You can still have that welcoming oasis of fresh air with an urban garden. Peter Smith, owner of…

Style

Personalize your massage at a private practice

CityTouch customizes spa treatments to meet client's needs.

Style

Victoria's Secret Fashion Show moving to England

It will still broadcast on CBS this fall.