Surrealism and Magic: Enchanted Modernity


Victor Brauner (1903–1966)
The Surrealist (Le Surréaliste), 1947
Oil on canvas, 60 x 45 cm
Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice (Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York)
76.2553 PG 111


Surrealism and Magic: Enchanted Modernity


Curated by Grazina Subelyte, Exhibition Curator, Peggy Guggenheim Collection

Peggy Guggenheim Collection, April 9–September 26, 2022
Museum Barberini, Potsdam, October 22, 2022–February 5, 2023

Like no other 20th-century movement, Surrealism was keenly inspired by tropes of magic, myth and the occult. In their engagement with the irrational and the unconscious, numerous of its members looked to magic as a poetic and deeply philosophical discourse, related to both arcane knowledge and individual self-empowerment. Over the past two decades, various studies have considerably expanded our appreciation of magic as a key aspect of the activity of the Surrealist group. In their works, the artists associated with the movement heavily drew on esoteric symbols and cultivated the image of the artist as an alchemist, magician, and visionary.


Max Ernst (1891–1976)
Attirement of the Bride (La Toilette de la mariée), 1940
Oil on canvas, 129.6 x 96.3 cm
Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice (Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York)
76.2553 PG 78

This exhibition explores the myriad ways, in which magic and the occult informed the development of Surrealism in international perspective, tracing its artistic trajectory from the “metaphysical paintings” of Giorgio de Chirico through to the politically contentious climate of the postwar years.

Amongst the many fascinating artists included in the exhibition are Victor Brauner, Leonora Carrington, Salvador Dalí, Paul Delvaux, Maya Deren, Max Ernst, Leonor Fini, René Magritte, Maria Martins, Roberto Matta, Wolfgang Paalen, Kay Sage, Kurt Seligmann, Yves Tanguy, Dorothea Tanning, and Remedios Varo.


Surrealism and Magic enchanted Modernity

Barry William Hale

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