Surrealism Beyond Borders: A sprawling survey of the revolutionary art movement

View Gallery 13 Photos
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Presenting over 150 works ranging from painting and sculpture to film and photography, the exhibition seeks to reposition Surrealism as a global movement

“Surrealism is based on the belief in the omnipotence of dreams, in the undirected play of thought,” declared André Breton in Manifestoes of Surrealism, published in 1924. Originating in France after the First World War, Surrealism is an avant-garde art movement drawing heavily on Sigmund Freud’s theories of psychoanalysis. Surrealists aimed to subvert reality, expose the uncanny in the everyday, and tap into unconscious desires. It is a revolutionary movement that remains influential today. Its philosophies and techniques have been adopted by artists all over the world, to challenge authority and imagine new worlds.

Surrealism Beyond Borders is a new exhibition co-produced by Tate Modern and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Currently on show in London until 29 August, it is a sprawling survey of the movement spanning 80 years and 50 countries. Presenting over 150 works, from painting and sculpture to photography and film, it shows how artists around the world have been influenced by Surrealist philosophies. By way of photography, the show includes work by pioneering artists including Dora Maar, Claude Cahun, Eileen Agar, Françoise Sullivan, Lionel Wendt, Nikola Vuco, Kati Horna and more. 

Many of Surrealism’s most famous practitioners – such as Salvador Dalí, Marcel Duchamp, and Max Ernst – worked from Paris. But by the 1930s, it was gaining momentum worldwide including in Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, England, Japan, Peru and Yugoslavia. “Regardless of its location, Surrealism represents a shared means of revolt against the status quo, adopted and adapted by those who value its promise of freedom,” writes Max Hollein, of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Frances Morris, from Tate Modern, in a co-authored foreword in the exhibition catalogue. “Surrealism Beyond Borders moves away from a Paris-centred viewpoint… It repositions Surrealism not as a canonical, monolithic movement with an official group and a single leader, but as something dynamic that enabled artists to imagine a position beyond their present artistic, cultural, social, or political situation.”

Surrealism Beyond Borders is on show at the Eyal Ofer Galleries in Tate Modern, London, until 29 August 2022. 

Marigold Warner

Online Editor

Marigold Warner joined the British Journal Photography in April 2018, and currently holds the position of Online Editor. She studied English Literature and History of Art at the University of Leeds, followed by an MA in Magazine Journalism from City, University of London. Her work has been published by titles including the Telegraph Magazine, Huck, Gal-dem, Disegno, and the Architects Journal.