Soft Construction with Boiled Beans (Premonition of Civil War), 1936, by Salvador Dalí.
Surrealism was revolutionary. Not only an artistic movement, it was a philosophy and a way of life that sought to shatter the boundaries between dreams and reality. Salvador Dalí, Joan Miró, Max Ernst, and others embraced it fully, and now the Philadelphia Museum of Art is honoring these creative minds with a diverse display of significant paintings, sculptures, photos, drawings, and prints created during the movement, in the new exhibition “The Surrealists: Works from the Collection.”
Surrealism originated in Paris in the late 1920s as writers began to experiment with a mode of expression aimed at releasing the uninhibited imagination of the unconscious. The concept soon shifted to visual art, where surrealism’s greatest impact can be seen. “The surrealists taught a great lesson about the human imagination as the key to human freedom—they explored dreams, chance happenings, love, and madness as alternatives to deadening narrow-mindedness,” explains Matthew Affron, the museum’s Muriel and Philip Berman curator of modern art and a cocurator of the exhibit. “They believed in the power of the work of art to shock us out of our ordinary mental habits. This exhibition traces their exploration of that transformative power.”
More than 70 works by some 40 artists are featured, including Dalí’sSoft Construction with Boiled Beans (Premonition of Civil War), which cocurator John Vick calls one of the most notable paintings in the exhibition. “It brings familiar symbols of the painter’s imagination together with his intense psychological response to the mounting tensions of a real-world event, the Spanish Civil War, which broke out just months after he finished the work,” he says. The painting was also part of the major Dalí retrospective hosted by the museum in 2005. Vick adds, “Dali’s meditation on self-destructive violence has lost none of its haunting power.” Through March 2 at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, 215-763-8100