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
Local

Gunther from 'Friends' talks Central Perk

We spoke with Gunther (James Michael Tyler) at the preview for new pop-up Central Perk, based on the cafe in "Friends."

Local

Central Perk opens in SoHo

Central Perk, of "Friends" fame, is giving out free coffee in SoHo through Oct. 18.

National

Beer sponsor Anheuser-Busch reproaches NFL over domestic abuse

Anheuser-Busch chastised the NFL for its handling of domestic violence cases, making it the first major advertiser to put pressure on the league.

Local

Sen. Krueger dishes on prospect of legal marijuana…

New Yorkers may see the legalization of recreational marijuana use as early as 2015 if State Senator Liz Krueger (D) gets her way. The Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act will…

Music

FREEMAN makes Freeman a free man from Ween

For nearly 30 years, Aaron Freeman was known endearingly to his listeners as Gene Ween. But with "FREEMAN," he makes it clear that he's gone somewhere else.

Television

'Outlander' recap: Season 1, Episode 6: 'The Garrison…

Whipping, punching, kicking and a marriage contract. "Outlander" is not for the faint of heart this week with "The Garrison Commander."

The Word

The Word: Hey girl, it's a girl for…

It's a girl for Ryan Gosling and Eva Mendes, who reportedly welcomed a daughter last Friday, according to Us Weekly. The super-private couple managed to…

Television

TV watch list, Tuesday, Sept. 16: 'New Girl,'…

Check out the season premiere of "New Girl," as Jess competes with Jessica Biel for a guy's attentions.

MLB

5 top contenders for NL Rookie of the…

The outing rekindled award talk for deGrom, who appears to hold the top spot for NL Rookie of the Year honors. Metro breaks down a few other contenders.

College

College football Top 25 poll (AP rankings)

College football Top 25 poll (AP rankings)

NFL

Tom Coughlin says Giants 'beat themselves' against Cardinals

Head coach Tom Coughlin, who had a day to cool off and reflect, still sounded like he had a gnawing feeling in his gut.

NFL

Marty Mornhinweg accepts blame for Jets timeout fiasco

Jets fans looking for a scapegoat for Sunday’s timeout fiasco found a willing party on Monday: Marty Mornhinweg.

Style

Rachel Zoe: New York Fashion Week Spring 15

Rachel Zoe goes 'Glam bohemia' for Spring.

Food

Where to find SweeTango apples

Introduced in 2009, SweeTango — a hybrid of Honeycrisp and Zestar — is a sweet apple with plenty of crunch.

Style

London Fashion Week recap

London Fashion week gets in on the action with politics, heritage and summertime living.

Food

Padma Lakshmi's recipe for green mango curry

Padma Lakshmi shares her recipe for green mango curry in UNICEF's new book, "UNICHEF."