Beyond the Real

Dali, Matisse, Picasso & World-Renowned Surrealists on Display at Saginaw Art Museum through September 8th

Posted In: Arts & Entertainment, Artist Feature,   From Issue 865   By: Robert E Martin

26th July, 2018     0

“Desire is the only master that man must recognize.” - Andre Breton

The Surrealist group were inspired by dreams and the unconscious mind.

Founded by the French poet André Breton in 1924, surrealism was a radical break from the past into something new. As an art movement, it was to exist as a new, modern spirit emerging from broader, older streams of human creativity. Breton’s First Manifesto of Surrealism was influenced by the theories of Sigmund Freud, who suggested the existence of an unconscious mind, containing the ides and emotions our conscious mind refuses to acknowledge. Dreams were one of the ways in which repressed feelings could be experienced. Breton argued artists and writers should actively seek to unlock the conscious, experience and try to depict an alternate state.

From its early development to its internationalization, surrealism accounts for many of the twentieth centuries most exceptional artists: Salvador Dalí, Wassily Kandinsky, Max Beckmann, Beth Van Hoesen, Barbara Leventhal-Stern and even Pablo Picasso.

This inventive and remarkably rare selection of work now on display at The Saginaw Art Museum through September 8th titled ‘Beyond the Real’  includes work by members of the original Paris-based group, as well as international artists who developed their own approaches to the irrational.

Many of the works on display, including two by Salvador Dali and another pair of sketches by Pablo Picasso, are actually original works from those artists that are part of the Saginaw Art Museum’s permanent collection. 

According to Executive Director Stacey Gannon, “When many people see the name of a famous artist on one of the works we displayed, they think it must be a reprint; but the Saginaw Art Museum is fortunate to have close to 1,100 pieces of original work from various well-known artists.  We have some pieces that are educational in nature and a lot of old photos, which is why our second-floor gallery is designed for works rendered on paper or photography.  Everything that we put on display up there has been from our own permanent collection and we have enough work to keep doing that for a very long time.”

.“The Picasso was purchased in 1956 and it was a sketch that he intended to eventually become a painting,” she continues. “It was based around contemporary American comic strips, which he admired immensely, and was composed in 1937.  One of the Dali’s that we have on display is titled The Ram & The Enchanted Princess, and some of the Dali’s we possessed and some were gifts to the museum.”

Salvador Dalí

Salvador Dalí often drew inspiration from iconic works of art, while also embracing the idea of the manipulation of time and memory as exemplified by The Persistence of Memory (1931). Additionally, Dalí was a prolific writer, filmmaker, and cultivated an eccentric public persona with his flamboyant mustache, pet ocelot, and outlandish behavior. His work has influenced popular culture, most specifically, the opening sequences of the early 1960’s television show The Twilight Zone.

The theories of Sigmund Freud fascinated Dali. Especially his thoughts on the human subconscious, which is where one experiences thoughts and feelings without being aware. According to Freud, dreams are coded messages from the subconscious, and Surrealist Dalí was interested in what dreams reveal.

Dalí self-induced hallucinations to access his subconscious to enhance the artistic process, which he called the paranoiac-critical method, “I am the first to be surprised and often terrified by the images I see appear upon my canvas. I register without choice and with all possible exactitude the dictates of my subconscious, my dreams…” Although he claimed to be surprised by the images, Dalí rendered them with meticulous precision, creating the illusion that these places could exist in the real world.

Surrealism’s Manifesto

Surrealism’s goal was to liberate thought, language, and human experience from the oppressive boundaries of rationalism. The identities of normal objects and symbols were often stripped, resulting in dreamlike and unreal landscapes. This idea made popular by Surrealists actually dates to medieval illuminated manuscripts. Later Hieronymus Bosch employed similar strange and imagined creatures in his magnum opus Garden of Earthly Delights (circa 1505). To the modern mind, Bosch’s triptych represents the totally imaginative. Yet, provides emphasis why, André Breton, the founder of the movement included Bosch posthumously among the Surrealists, Surrealist for his ability to take themes out of context or the real and place them in the imagined.

The Saginaw Art Museum is located between Old Town and Downtown Saginaw at 1126 N. Michigan Avenue. Its hours are Tuesday - Saturday from Noon to 5 PM and is closed Sunday & Monday. General admission is $5.00 for adults, $3.00 for students and Seniors 62+ and museum members and children 15 and under are free.






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