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The connection between Surrealism and the Israel Museum began as a “chance encounter” more than fifty years ago, and it has since evolved into a deep and lasting relationship. Thanks in great part to generous gifts from donors and artists alike, the Museum has been able to form a spectacular holding of Dada and Surrealist material, comprising everything from paintings, ready-mades, and photographs, to works in the wide variety of new and innovative mediums employed by these groundbreaking movements. This repository also includes an extensive library and documentary materials that make the collection an important international research resource. The Vera and Arturo Schwarz Collection of Dada and Surrealist Art in the Israel Museum includes unparalleled holdings of individual artists, among them Duchamp and Man Ray, as well as an ensemble of other artists of remarkable breadth, reflecting a life committed to the Surrealist spirit. Dada and Surrealism explores the key preoccupations of these movements: “marvelous” juxtapositions, automatism and its evolution, 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 in its 1924 Manifesto to the irrational and creative forces found within the human psyche. The use of chance, automatism, biomorphic shapes, and dream imagery and the manipulation of mundane objects characterize the work of artists as distinct as Andre 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.

Softcover, 176 pages, Russian. 2014 | ISBN 978-5-935-725-570

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Dada and Surrealism from the Collection of the Israel Museum