Surrealism and Beyond in the Israel Museum

Marvelous Juxtapositions

Marvelous Juxtapositions

The use of found and readymade materials in Dada and Surrealist collages, montages, and objects break down the borders between art and life. Fragments of the everyday world placed in unexpected juxtapositions shock, seduce, and disorient the viewer. The relocation releases their poetic potential, creating a dream object “drawn from the strange depths of the unconscious mind.”

Dada exploited the rapid technological development of radio, cinema, manufacturing, and the illustrated press. The Dadaist were an international group, and included Kurt Schwitters, Hannah Höch, Max Ernst, Marcel Janco, Man Ray, and Marcel Duchamp, some of whom continued to be active in the Surrealist movement. Their strategies involved purchasing, editing, and arranging objects, texts, and mechanically produced images. Chance, humor, and punning were among their major weapons.

The readymade challenged handmade artifacts and the notion of self-expression. Exhibiting mundane items – a comb, bottlerack, or coat hanger – with almost no intervention, Dada artists questioned the transformation of an object when placed in a museum or gallery. The idea behind the artwork now constituted the real act of creation, anticipating late twentieth-century conceptual art. The Dadaists deliberately minimized the value of the original work of art and the artist’s effort and skill.

Duchamp’s radical operations began before the war and independently of Dada. André Breton described his readymades as precursors of the Surrealist object. These objects were perceived as visual equivalents of the powerful poetic metaphors used in Surrealist core texts: “beautiful as the chance encounter on a dissecting table of a sewing machine and an umbrella.”

Collages and objects inspired later artists, including Louise Nevelson, Joseph Cornell, and Christo, and have become mainstream activities in contemporary art, feeding into installation and site-specific works as well as commercial media.

למאגר התערוכות , מוזיאון ישראל | מוזיאון ישראל, ירושלים | כל הזכויות שמורות © מוזיאון ישראל, ירושלים 1995-
To The Israel Museum Exhibition Online | The Israel Museum, Jerusalem | Copyright © The Israel Museum, Jerusalem 1995-