Surrealist Works on Paper

Robert Goodnough, Life, watercolor, Gift of the artist, 1997.20

May 6 - August 19, 2006

Surrealism was a literary and artistic movement that strove to give pictorial form to the subconscious mind in fantastic images and incongruous juxtapositions of subjects and motifs. The style grew out of the Dada movement of the 1920s, which presented works of anti-art deliberately defying reason in response to the seemingly inexplicable tragedies of World War I. Surrealism flourished in European literature and the visual arts between the World Wars. According to the movement's principal spokesman, the poet and critic André Breton, Surrealism was a means of reuniting conscious and unconscious realms of experience so completely that the world of dream and fantasy would be joined to the everyday world. Drawing heavily on theories adapted from Sigmund Freud and Karl Jung, Breton and his colleagues saw the unconscious as the wellspring of the imagination. During World War II, Surrealist artists like Max Ernst, André Masson, Matta Echauren, and Man Ray left Paris to take refuge in the United States, transplanting ideas that were well known to receptive American artists.

Drawn from the permanent collection of the Worcester Art Museum, this exhibition includes photographs by such Surrealist photographers as Man Ray, Claude Cahun, and Raoul Ubac. Drawings by Jacques Lipchitz, and Matta, collages by André Racz and Bruce Conner, and prints by such Surrealist masters as Salvador Dalí, Man Ray, Joan Miró, Stanley William Hayter, and Alfonso Ossorio.

Related Event

Director's Talk: Magritte: Master of Paradox
Tuesday, May 16, 5:30-7:30PM
In 1999 the Museum acquired its first surrealist painting, Rene Magritte's The Voice of Silence. In connection with the exhibition Surrealist Works on Paper, the Museum offers this opportunity for an in-depth appreciation of Magritte's painting and the artist himself, one of the leading masters of Surrealism. The class will include a PowerPoint presentation and a visit to the gallery to see the work in the context of early 20th-century art. $25 Members, $35 Non-Members. Visit or call 508.799.4406 x3129 or x3007 to register.

Select Images from the Exhibition