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‘Which of this feels more surreal?’: The Dali investigates ‘Midnight in Paris’

Bill DeYoung

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Photography by Jacques-André Boiffard: Tour Eiffel du Nuit, Paris (Eiffel Tower at Night, Paris), 1930 (detail)

An exhibition opening this weekend at the Dali Museum explores the dawning days of the Surrealist movement, with a cross-section of works from across the spectrum.

Midnight in Paris: Surrealism at the Crossroads, 1929 includes paintings and sculpture, as well as creative examples of the technology that was shaping the nascent movement’s direction – photography and film.

Also included: Poetry and journal pages, chronicling the arguments, conflicts, agreements and resolutions amongst the iconic artists centered in the French capital, in the period after the end of devastating World War I.

Salvador Dali, L’anne Pourri (The Stinking Ass), 1928

“The drama,” explains Dali Museum Curator of Education Peter Tush, “is in the pages.”

It’s also in the artwork, by Jean Arp, André Breton, Luis Buñuel, Alexander Calder, Giorgio de Chirico, Salvador Dali, Max Ernst, Alberto Giacometti, René Magritte, Joan Miró, Francis Picabia, Man Ray, Yves Tanguy and others.

Joan Miró, Peinture (Painting), 1930

Explains Tush: “Part of the conflict in Surrealism was, what is the best means of being a Surrealist? Is it to be a poet? Is it to be a painter? Is it to work in film, and photography, and be more spontaneous through new methodology, and new technology?”

The poets, for example, were skeptical that visual artists could grasp the concept of stream-of-consciousness or spontaneous creation – an apple is an apple is an apple, they argued. The movement became divided into factions.

Dali, with his dreamlike imagery, was destined to have a profound effect on Surrealism. Midnight in Paris captures the moment in 1929 when he’d just arrived from Spain, with his filmmaking friend Luis Buñuel; they were creating a silent called The Andalusian Dog.

Salvador Dali, Dormeuse, cheval, lion invisibles (Invisible Sleeping Woman, Horse, Lion), 1930

 

“Part of what this show challenges people with is: Which of this feels more surreal?” Tush explains. “There’s an idea of Surrealism being melted watches, but there’s a whole lot of things that are also considered Surrealism that look nothing like Dali’s world.”

Organized by Didier Ottinger, deputy director of the Musée national d’art moderne at the Centre Pompidou, and co-curated by the Dali’s own William Jeffett, Midnight in Paris has never been exhibited in the United States. And after it leaves St. Petersburg next April, he images are scheduled to go back to Europe.

Visitors will enter the gallery through a re-creation of a 1920s Paris Metro station, and be immediately transported back in time, for total immersion into a world of infinite artistic possibilities.

Alexander Calder, Masque (Mask), 1929.

“It’s a very important point for our perspective at the museum,” says Tush. “What comes out of the show – what you see very quickly – is you see such a variety of interests and concerns and personalities.

“Over the six years from the moment the movement formed, to 1929, it’s easy to see that the tumults, the friendships, the rivalries and just the sheer level of ideas that were percolating all came to a head.

“It’s almost like a point where there was a re-christening of what the movement was about.”

Midnight in Paris: Surrealism at the Crossroads, 1929 opens Saturday, Nov. 23. More info here.

Boiffard’s Tour Eiffel du Nuit, Paris (Eiffel Tower at Night, Paris), 1930, full.

 

Full image credits:

Salvador Dali
(Figueras, 1904 – 1989)
Dormeuse, cheval, lion invisibles (Invisible Sleeping Woman, Horse, Lion)
[1930]
Oil on canvas
Inv. AM 1993-26
Centre Pompidou, Paris, Musée national d’art moderne/Centre de creation
industrielle
Donated by the Association Bourdon
Photo credit : © Philippe Migeat – Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI /Dist. RMN-
GP
©Salvador Dali, Fundació Gala-Salvador Dali, (ARS), 2019

Joan Miró
(Barcelona, 1893 – Palma di Mallorca, 1983)
Peinture (Painting)
1930
Inv. AM 2853 P
Centre Pompidou, Paris, Musée national d’art moderne/Centre de creation
industrielle
Donated by Mr. Pierre Loeb, 1949
© Successió Miró / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris 2019

Alexander Calder
(Philadelphia, 1898 – New York, 1976)
Masque (Mask)
[1929]
Inv. AM 1519 S
Centre Pompidou, Paris, Musée national d’art moderne/Centre de creation
industrielle
Gift of the artist, 1966
Photo credit : © George Meguerditchian – Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI
/Dist. RMN-GP
©Calder Foundation, New York / ARS, New York

Jacques-André Boiffard
(Epernon, 1902 – Paris, 1961)
Tour Eiffel de nuit, Paris (Eiffel Tower at Night, Paris)c.1930
Inv. AM 2012-2089
Centre Pompidou, Paris
Musée national d’art moderne – Centre de création industrielle
Purchase thanks to Yves Rocher's patronage, 2011. Fom the Christian
Bouqueret collection.
Photo credit : © Philippe Migeat – Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI /Dist. RMN-
GP
© Mme Denise Boiffard

Salvador Dali
(Figueras, 1904 – 1989)
L’âne pourri (The Rotting Donkey)
1928
Oil, sand and gravel on panel
Inv. AM 1999-22 Centre Pompidou, Paris, Musée national d’art moderne/Centre de creation
industrielle
Donation / Acceptance in lieu 1999
Photo credit : © Bertrand Prévost – Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI /Dist. RMN-
GP
©Salvador Dali, Fundació Gala-Salvador Dalí, (ARS), 2019

 

 

 

 

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