Global Perspectives on Surrealism

Day: Friday 6 April


Krzysztof Fijalkowski (Norwich University of the Arts)
Matthew Gale (Tate)
Jennifer Mundy (Tate)
Gavin Parkinson (Courtauld Institute of Art)

Session Abstract

One of the most revolutionary and popular cultural movements of the 20th century, surrealism was inherently international in its scope and ambitions but its global impact has yet to be fully identified or evaluated. Originating in Paris, home to artists, writers and intellectuals from many countries, the movement vehemently rejected colonialism and nationalism (‘we are disgusted by the idea of belonging to a country at all’). Personal communications and journeys, the staging of international exhibitions, and the dissemination of books and magazines helped spread surrealism’s beliefs and practices. But how was the movement perceived in other countries? What were the elements in its politics, philosophy, literature and art that individuals in other cultures found resonant or problematic? And in the post-war years, when surrealism was discounted as outdated by many, where and with what aspirations did it continue to flourish or influence artistic production? In examining how surrealism was viewed beyond Western Europe and North America, this session aims to look outside the usual geographies and interwar histories to gain a clearer understanding of the movement’s global presence and enable a more complex and critical understanding of its transnational appeal from the 1920s to the 1960s. It aims to bring to light the political and cultural particularities of how surrealism was perceived and sometimes reframed in countries as diverse as Chile, China, Japan, Romania, Sweden and Turkey. In so doing, the session asks how our current understanding of surrealism’s identity, significance and legacy is changed by these global perspectives.

Speakers & Papers

Lauren Walden (Coventry University) Surrealism in China: The case of Lang Jingshan

Emil Leth Meilvang (University of Oslo) The Glow of the Whole: Mapping Scandinavian Surrealism

Karolina Koczynska (University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh College of Art) The Myths of Surrealism in Interwar Poland: The case of Artes

Will Atkin (Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London) Demonic Surrealism in Bucharest: Gherasim Luca and the Black-Magical Object

Katia Sowels (École Normale Supérieure, Paris) Chile: An example of conquest by the Surrealist object 1941–48

Ambra D’Antone (Courtauld Institute of Art/Tate Modern) Yüksel Arslan’s Surrealism and Turkish Iconography

Jelena Stojković (Arts University Bournemouth) The Surreal Condition of Surrealism in Post-war Japan

Elizaveta Butakova-Kilgarriff (Independent scholar) After Magritte: Victor Pivovarov’s ‘cerebral’ Surrealism

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