Surrealism and Beyond in the Israel Museum



Dada and Surrealism are among the most significant movements of our time. They challenged tradition, introducing innovative materials and artistic strategies that would change the vocabulary of art, and created an enduring legacy.

Thanks to generous gifts from donors and artists, the Israel Museum has built an impressive holding of Dada and Surrealist art. The collection comprises paintings, readymades, photographs, and works in the wide variety of mediums these groundbreaking movements employed, as well as an extensive library of documentary materials.

Surrealism and Beyond explores the key preoccupations of these movements: “marvelous” juxtapositions, automatism and its aftermath, biomorphism and metamorphosis, dreamscapes, and desire. Reflecting the conviction that Dada and Surrealism were universal spiritual and ideological movements, the exhibition also integrates later works inspired by these movements' principles.

Spurred by the devastation of World War I, Dada emerged in 1916 in Zurich, and rapidly spread to Berlin, Hannover, Cologne, New York, and Paris. For the Dadaists, the war was final proof of the bankruptcy of late nineteenth-century rationalism and bourgeois culture, and the movement was launched with antiwar performances at the Zurich Cabaret Voltaire. Romanian poet Tristan Tzara asserted in the 1918 Manifesto that the infantile yet suggestive word “Dada” (“hobbyhorse” in French), lifted at random from a French-German dictionary, does not signify anything. Aiming to destroy accepted principles and deconstruct the traditional language of art, the Dadaists adopted radical ideas and modes of artistic expression. Their collages, assemblages, montages, readymades, films, and performances are often considered nihilistic anti-art.

The Surrealist movement, born in Paris after 1919 out of Dada's ferment, was committed to a revolution of spirit and the search for a new reality. Inspired by Sigmund Freud's exploration of the unconscious, Surrealism gave voice to the irrational and creative forces found within the human psyche in its 1924 Manifesto. Its use of chance, automatism, biomorphic shapes, visionary mode, and manipulation of mundane objects characterize the work of artists as distinct as André Breton, Max Ernst, Joan Miró, René Magritte, and Salvador Dalí, among many others.

Decades after the advent of these seminal movements, the creative, critical, and ironic practices of Dada and Surrealism remain open to reinvention and continue to shock and provoke.

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To The Israel Museum Exhibition Online | The Israel Museum, Jerusalem | Copyright © The Israel Museum, Jerusalem 1995-