Surrealism Beyond Borders: The Tate Modern's Strange New World

22 March 2022

Surrealism, a revolutionary cultural movement prioritised the unconscious and dreams over the familiar and every day. The exhibition spanning 60 years, and 50 countries shows how Surrealism inspired and united artists across the globe exploring the collective interests shared by artists across regions to highlight their interrelated networks.

Expanding our understanding of Surrealism, the exhibition featuring over 150 works is grouped in broad areas of Surrealist activity, and ranges from painting and photography to sculpture and film, showing how the movement took root in many places at different times.

Surrealism offered artists the freedom to challenge authority and imagine a new world, questioning the strongholds of consciousness and control. Dreams are critical to this because, like hallucinations and delusions, many have believed that they can reveal the workings of the unconscious mind. The exploration of the unconscious has long presented Surrealist artists with a means to challenge forms of repression and exclusion dictated by prevailing social conventions (Alberto Giacometti’s The Cage).

While it has often generated poetic and even humorous works, (Salvador Dali’s Lobster Telephone), it has also been used by artists as a serious weapon in the struggle for political, social and personal freedom. Surrealism has challenged predominant systems of power and privilege, division and exclusion.

Familiar Surrealist themes such as the exploration of the uncanny and unconscious desires are repositioned from a fresh perspective, and encompass more fluid identifications of gender and sexuality. The exhibition also considers locations around the world where artists have converged and exchanged ideas of Surrealism.

Check out Tate Modern Late on 25 March when the building stays open until 10pm. Enjoy an evening of free music, film, workshops, conversation and food, exploring the subversive world of Surrealism. A series of short talks explores lucid dreaming, tarot and witchcraft.

On Saturday, 30 April the Starr Cinema at the Tate Modern has a Surrealist Film Screening and Symposium. The event includes talks, a chaired panel discussion, and a question-and-answer session with leading academics, curators and film specialists. A rare chance to view two significant Surrealist films which explore how Surrealism has been used politically against colonialism and imperial oppression – Les statues Meurent Aussi, directed by Alain Resnais, Chris Marker and Ghislain Cloquet, and L’invention du Monde, directed by Michel Zimbacca and Jean-Louis Bedouin.

Tate Modern houses over a hundred years of art from the birth of modernism in the early 1900s to the most exciting work being made today. In addition to paid exhibitions, their Collection includes free art displays of sculpture, paintings, films, installations and video works from artists all over the world. 

Tickets need to be booked in advance as does disabled parking.

Surrealism Beyond Borders, organised by Tate Modern and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York runs until 29 August 2022.