Not surreal enough.
cc&kat, 2nd floor promenade, Art Gallery of Ontario, Jan31,2009.
I've had great hopes for this new summer exhibition at the Art Gallery of Ontario.
When I first heard about the exhibition, I have just finished my Dada/Surrealism art class.
I was super eager and excited by the fact that I can actually see some of the works, in person, that I only got to see in textbooks.
Perhaps my expectations were too great.
I found the exhibition rather, lacking the flavour.
Left: Man Ray, The Gift, 1921
Right: Salvador Dali, Apparition of a Face and Fruit Dish on a Beach, 1938-39
The only exciting things I got to see were Man Ray's The Gift (1921/1970 replica) and Salvador Dali's Apparition of a Face and Fruit Dish on a Beach (1938-39). It was absolutely stunning to see Dali's Apparition of a Face and Fruit Dish on a Beach. Its grandeur captivated me. I stood there for good 10 minutes, trying to absorb what was the most interesting piece in the exhibition.
Salvador Dali, Meditative Rose, 1958
I really hoped to see Dali's Meditative Rose (1958).
It isn't one of Dali's infamous works, but nevertheless, my favourite.
Just like The Kiss, when I first saw this painting, it spoke to me, slowly.....
(When I exited the exhibition and went into the gift shop, they had Meditative Rose jigsaw puzzle. I really wanted to buy it but it was way over priced :-S)
"At the age of six, I wanted to be a cook. At seven, I wanted to be Napoleon. And my ambition has been growing steadily ever since."
Dali was quite the character.
Surrealism was the perfect suite for the crazy, yet brilliant, minded Dali. There was nothing ordinary about him. Even his wife was scandalous. Gala was a special lady, and that is all I am going to say.
In 1924, when Andre Breton published the manifesto of Surrealism, he explained the primary aim the movement was, "to resolve the previously contradictory conditions of dream and reality into an absolute reality, a super-reality." (from TATE)
Max Ernst, Pieta or Revolution by Night, 1923
During the study, I chose Pieta or Revolution by Night (1923) by Max Ernst as my final term paper. I was rather into Max Ernst, then, than somewhat overrated Dali.
(Normally, I try to avoid writing papers on artists who are too famous. This gives me the challenge of looking for books and articles that are harder to find, and also I can bs and wouldn't be too critical.)
So I hoped to see some of Ernst's paintings too, but no luck. There were three drawings and a sculpture, which I did not recognize at all. Disappointed.
Surrealism is something I probably cannot understand fully. It speaks of the troubled mind, dreams, trans/unconsciousness, schizophrenia, automatism, delusional images.... simply nothing ordinary.
What was going through these artists minds when they painted these?
I truly, really want to know. I guess it can be similar to getting high on drugs (well... didn't they do that back then anyways?). Otherwise, it is almost impossible to create something so bizarre, or they just had absurdly incredible imagination.
"You know the worst thing is freedom. Freedom of any kind is the worst for creativity."
Surrealism was practically based on Freudian theories. Freud was the father to many Surrealists, including Dali. Freud's study of unconscious and schizophrenia inspired the Surrealists, creating irrational images that left the viewers wonder, "what the hell were they on?"
Left: Rene Magritte, The Tempest, 1931
Right: Yves Tanguy, The Satin Pillow, 1929
I also enjoyed Magritte's The Tempest (1931) and Tanguy's The Satin Pillow (1929). Looking at them, I get lost in their world of dreams and imagination. If I were to paint my dreams, could it look somewhat like these? I think I am too normal to have dream such strange dreams.
Salvador Dali, Shoe Hat, 1937
One interesting theory by Freud was applied to Dali's Shoe Hat (1937).
"A woman's hat may very often be interpreted with certainty as the male genitals." and then he continues in his The Interpretation of Dreams, "In the dreams of men, one often finds the necktie as a symbol for the penis; this is not only because neckties hang down in front of the body, and are characteristic of men, but also the original of the symbol. Persons who make use of this symbol in dreams are very extravagant in the matter of ties, and possess whole collections of them."
Seems, Surrealists were cleverly hiding phallic images into their paintings as it is not too obvious to the viewers but at a closer study, the meaning becomes very sexual. And continuing to read Freud, so it seems most of everything are related to male genitals.
To think what was going through the minds of the Surrealists are one thing, but really, what was Freud thinking when he came up with these theories?
"The problem with the youth of today is that one is no longer part of it."
Well.... My final verdict is.... B-
I don't want to sound too dissentient about it, and I feel that it would have been tremendously expensive to have all the great masterpieces everyone wants to see on a loan. Also, it was sad to see Samson and Delilah(1609-10) by Rubens return to its original home. I really hope to see some great paintings coming to AGO in the future. Andy Warhol exhibition in 2006 was amazing and I loved it. Now with the new Gehry look, I hope the exhibitions can be as glamorous as the architecture too.