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Photographic Surrealism

DATES May 17, 1980 through July 13, 1980
  • May 17, 1980 Photographic Surrealism, on view at The Brooklyn Museum May 17 through July 13, provides the first comprehensive examination of the influence of surrealism on photography. 119 works will be shown, tracing the surrealist impulse through 19th-century photomontage to doctrinaire photographic surrealism and to wider influence and continuing effects on contemporary art, and on fashion and advertising. Artists represented include Eugene Atget, Man Ray, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Guy Bourdin, Brassaï, Hans Bellmar, René Magritte, David Hare, Raoul Ubac, Lucas Samaras, Deborah Turbeville, and Les Krims.

    Nancy Hall-Duncan, Curator of the Exhibition, writes in the catalogue to the exhibition; “Photography became one of the many languages used to express surrealist imagery and meaning. It exerted a tremendous influence on a wide range of photographers during the 1920s and 1930s, including many photographers whose work is almost never considered in the context of surrealism.”

    This influence lessened somewhat after World War II when the surrealists failed to regain leadership of the avant-garde. However, surrealist imagery persisted in fashion and advertising photography during the 1940s and 1950s, renewing the vitality of the genre. Mass media interpretations of the surrealist approach to visual form offer significant social commentary. In effect, society’s perceptions and values have been profoundly modified by surrealist visual formulations though few contemporary photographers acknowledge orthodox surrealism as a source of inspiration. Surrealist imagery, allussiveness, and sense of form, continue a vital course free of doctrine.

    The exhibition was organized by The New Gallery of Contemporary Art, Cleveland, Ohio, with the aid of grants from The Cleveland Foundation, and The National Endowment for the Arts and The National Endowment for the Humanities, Federal agencies in Washington, D.C. A 72-page illustrated catalogue ($6.00) is available.

    Brooklyn Museum Archives. Records of the Department of Public Information. Press releases, 1971 - 1988. 1980, 021.
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