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Weird world: Surrealist art at Te Papa
Salvador Dalí, Couple with their heads in the clouds, oil on panel, 1936

Weird world: Surrealist art at Te Papa

A major exhibition of 20th-century surrealism is set to strike a chord in these equally strange times.

In an unbelievably fortunate programming move, Te Papa will host this huge collection of Surrealist works while their home, Rotterdam’s Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, undergoes a major renovation.

The works of the Freud-flavoured group of post-Dadaists who founded Surrealism should not present too much of a challenge to the Te Papa marketing department in these very surreal times, but even without the expedient narrative, the headline works from Dali, Ernst, Carrington, Magritte and Duchamp should be more than enough to keep the museum buzzing over the winter.

The exhibition spans the whole gamut of Surrealism’s unnaturally long run from the 1910s right through to its gentle fizzing-out in the 60s, and features more than 180 works, exploring the richness of Surrealism through paintings, photography, sculpture, books, design, film and more.

Amongst the notable works are Dali’s Mae West Lips Sofa and Magritte’s La Maison de Verre. You can also see Magritte’s excellent La reproduction interdite, or Not to be reproduced, a portrait of the artist’s patron Edward James (whose own surrealist collection is now part of the touring Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen collection), which depicts James staring into a mirror reflecting the back of his own head. It’s an image so influential that it has itself been reflected and referenced repeatedly in pop culture ever since, including prominently in Matthew Saville’s great local short, Dive.

Unusually for a touring show of this quality, Te Papa is the only venue in the Asia-Pacific region to host the collection. With trips to European museums a fading memory of another world, it’s a rare chance to come face to face with a type of art that will seemingly be lost to New Zealand audiences for some time to come.

Surrealist Art: Masterpieces from Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen
He Toi Pohewa: He Toi Marupō o Muhiama o Boijmans Van Beuningen
Te Papa 12 Jun – 31 Oct 2021

This content was created in partnership with WellingtonNZ.

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