Research

The international seminar: Around Surrealism

On the occasion of the spring exhibitions of "Max Ernst - Dream and Revolution" at Louisiana Museum of Modern Art and "Wilhelm Freddie. Stick the Fork in Your Eye!" at the National Gallery of Denmark, the two museums arranged an international seminar in which researchers, museum staff and the public could find a forum for discussions of surrealism.

Recent research on surrealist art
The purpose of the seminar was to introduce recent research on surrealist art, and elaborate on central themes concerned with surrealism. The introductory speakers were acclaimed Danish and international researchers who have contributed significantly to recent research within this field.

Four theme sessions
The seminar was divided thematically into four sessions: Surrealism and Painting, The Revolutionary Project, Mass Culture and the Commercial Field, Desire and Eroticism.

The thematic structure allowed speakers to adopt both an international and a regional perspective on surrealism as well as to address later developments in 20th Century art.

Films
Statens Museum for Kunst has produced 8 films from the seminar. The films are produced by Mathilde Schytz Juul, filmed and edited by Mads Damsbo. Watch films from the seminar.

Max Ernst og Dorothea Tanning med Capricorne, Sedona, Arizona, 1946. Foto: John Kasnetzis Wilhelm Freddie, Zola og Jeanne Rozérot, 1938. Museum Sønderjylland, Kunstmuseet i Tønder.

© Max Ernst og Dorothea Tanning med Capricorne, Sedona, Arizona, 1946. Foto: John Kasnetzis
Wilhelm Freddie, Zola og Jeanne Rozérot, 1938. Museum Sønderjylland, Kunstmuseet i Tønder.

About the seminar: Around Surrealism
The seminar was held at Louisiana and the National Gallery of Denmark, 12-13 May 2009.

Tuesday 12 May 2009
Louisiana Museum of Modern Art: Surrealism and Painting. The Revolutionary Project.


Surrealism and Painting
Max Ernst and Wilhelm Freddie were both painters who maintained a critical and experimental approach to painting as a medium. The question of medium was a hotly debated issue even in the early phase of surrealism around 1924. Many of the surrealists were critical of painting, considering it to be too static and too much of a consciously controlled, intellectual construction, incapable of capturing the technological aspect of modern life. Other visual media, such as collage and object art, were perceived as far more suitable for the surrealist project. The open and experimental approach to media in surrealism points towards later generations’ artistic practices.

Surrealism and Art: Beyond painting? (Surrealisme og Kunst: Hinsides maleriet?)
Elza Adamowicz, Professor i fransk, Queen Mary University of London

Surrealist legacies. From surrealist collage to Young British Artists (Den surrealistiske arv. Fra surrealistisk collage til Young British Artists)

Camilla Skovbjerg Paldam, Adjunkt i kunsthistorie, Aarhus Universitet

The Revolutionary Project
To André Breton, surrealism was first and foremost a revolutionary movement that had social transformation as its goal. Several of the surrealists sympathized with the political left wing, but had difficulties adjusting to a political party. The main concern was to liberate the individual from the oppressing mechanisms of society and pave the way for a more open and liberate society. This view was presented with increasing poignancy in Breton’s texts towards the end of the 1920s and the beginning of the 1930s and acquired a new perspective during and after World War II.

The Surrealist Revolution 1935-36 (Den surrealistiske revolution 1935-36)

Nikolaj Lübecker, lektor i fransk og film, University of Aberdeen

The Need for a New Myth’ and the Revolutionary Project in Wartime and Postwar Surrealism ('Behovet for en Ny Myte' and det revolutionære projekt i krigstidens og efterkrigstidens surrealisme)
Steven Harris, lektor i kunst og design, University of Alberta

The Revolution of Desire versus the Desire of Revolution. Surrealism and Mass Culture in The Age of pop. (Begærets revolution versus begæret efter revolution. Surrealisme og massekultur i pop'ens tidsalder)
Roger Behrens, Lecturer at the Leuphana University and University of Hamburg

Wednesday 13 May 2009
The National Gallery of Denmark: Mass Culture and the Commercial Field. Desire and Eroticism.

Mass Culture and the Commercial Field
The fascination of commercial culture is both a striking and controversial aspect of surrealism. The commercial industry in all its aspects offered a wealth of new forms of expressions, which again meant that a delimitation of the field of art could be effected and a connection with actual social reality could be established. However, engagement in the commercial culture was also a highly debated issue in the surrealist movement and was perceived by many surrealist artists as irreconcilable with the revolutionary ambition of surrealism.

Surrealism between Art and Advertising
Georges Roque, researcher at CNRS (Centre national de la recherche scientifique), Paris.

Surrealism and Photography - Two of a Kind: Photography in the Work of Wilhelm Freddie

Mette Kia Krabbe Meyer, Director and curator of modern history, Museet Færgegården, Frederikssund

Desire and Eroticism

Central to surrealism is the aim of liberating human nature. Inspired by psychoanalysis, the surrealists were especially interested in erotic desire as a means of access to the subconscious areas of the human psyche. The interpretation of desire as it is expressed in surrealist art also shed light on surrealists’ concepts of gender and sexuality - including constructions of the feminine and the masculine identity. The ambition of liberating sexuality had political and social consequences reaching far beyond the cultural field.

Surrealism’s Érotisme Noir
Alyce Mahon, Senior Lecturer in the History of Art, Fellow of Trinity College, University of Cambridge

Anxiety, sexuality, photography and film: Rethinking surrealist technologies

Amy Lyford, Associate Professor of Art History & Visual Arts, Occidental College, Los Angeles, CA.

Art and the Sexual Revolution: Wilhelm Freddie's work discussed in relation to sexuality, politics and aesthetics in Denmark from the 1930s to the 1960s
Rune Gade, Associate Professor of Art History, University of Copenhagen

About the exhibition "Wilhelm Freddie. Stick the Fork in Your Eye!"

The seminar was supported by The Heritage Agency of Denmark

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