Surrealism at the Harn: A Centennial Celebration (December 9, 2023 – June 2, 2024) marks the 100th anniversary of the Surrealist movement, which began in Paris in 1924 and continues to influence artmaking to this day. The exhibition presents selections from the Harn’s Modern and Contemporary collections representing the emergence of Surrealism in the 20th century as well as the global expression of Surrealist sensibilities in the 21st century.
Surrealism was a movement that emerged in the wake of the First World War with the revolutionary intent to liberate the imagination and use it to transform the world. To achieve this liberation, Surrealists pursued varied strategies and techniques, highlighted in the exhibition. For example, many Surrealist artists experimented with automatism—a technique of freehanded drawing and painting that attempted to circumvent conscious decision-making and control. Another strategy was to employ the irrational juxtaposition of distinct elements to create dreamlike images that transform everyday reality. In addition to highlighting such techniques the exhibition investigates evocative Surrealist themes exploring hybrid bodies, uncanny objects and strange beauty.
Surrealism at the Harn includes more than 40 works by 30 artists. These range from canonical Surrealists such as Max Ernst, Salvador Dalí and René Magritte; to late twentieth- and twenty-first-century artists, such as Jerry Uelsmann and Celeste Roberge, who carried the energies of Surrealism into our contemporary moment. Works by Skunder Boghossian, Roberto Matta, Wifredo Lam and Rufino Tamayo reflect the geographic diversity of Surrealism as it spread from Europe to Africa and the Americas, while artworks by Gertrude Abercrombie and Lee Krasner demonstrate how women extended the scope of Surrealist exploration.
The exhibition was curated by Dr. Rachel Silveri (UF Assistant Professor of Art History) and a team of seven UF Art History graduate students studying modern art under her mentorship: Anna Dobbins, Laura Hodges, Leah Lester, Claude Mohr, Damon Reed, Savannah Tew and Allison Westerfield.
Programs for Surrealism at the Harn will include gallery talks by graduate student curators and a symposium on Surrealism featuring eminent international scholars: “Surrealism, Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow” (March 22 – 23, 2024).