It’s a Surreal World and We Just Live in It

surreal worldSome art is beautiful, some is disturbing, some makes you think. Surrealism seems to cover all of the bases. I love it! During my studies, I focused more on Italian Renaissance (architecture), but I always found Surrealism, Dadaism,and similar styles to be incredibly fascinating. So when the Centraal Museum in Utrecht opened their Surreal Worlds exhibit recently, I knew I had to see it.

Surrealism developed initially in France around 1920 and took about 10 years to make its way to the Netherlands. Interestingly, it was here in Utrecht where it really took root in the country. Much of Surrealism dealt with getting rid of the moralism, sexual inhibition, and stifling rules of Catholicism and the average bourgeois culture. Utrecht, which had so long been a seat of power for the Catholic church, may have been rife with artists ready to open their minds to this new way of expressing themselves. Surrealism moved beyond the rational world, turning to the dream world and free association.Surreal WorldMost of the extensive exhibit focuses on the Dutch artists, from the 1930s until present times, who were drawn to Surrealism. One of the most prominent of the early Dutch Surrealism artists was J.H. Moesman, whose work is on display, capturing the essence of so much of the style.

However, the exhibit does include a few small pieces by some of the biggest international names of the movement, including Man Ray, Max Ernst, Joan Miró, and Marcel Duchamp. It was fun to see some of the pieces in person and to recognize the styles of these individual artists.man ray ironduchampjoan mirómax ernst(Apologies for the less than stellar photos. Low museum lighting and an ancient camera phone aren’t the best combination.)

The exhibit is incredibly well done, covering a variety of artists through the last 80 years or so. They also chose a fascinating way of displaying many of the works, dividing them into groups based on various body parts, even the “naughty bits”. Interested in seeing a large net bag filled with glass breasts and penii? They’ve got it. From head to toe, there are some fascinating works that range from creepy to stunning.

They also have some works by Pyke Koch, a Dutch artist who lived for many years here in Utrecht. I first learned of him because of his design of the lamps throughout the city, but his paintings, done in the Magic Realism style, have really grown on me. I really enjoyed getting the chance to see more of his work. This one, in particular, really caught my eye:pyke kochThe exhibit runs through 9 June and I highly recommend it if you have even a passing interest in Surrealism. This weekend is a great time to visit the Centraal Museum, because it’s Museum Weekend. Museums across the city are opening their doors for free or for reduced entrance fees. You can visit the Centraal Museum this weekend for just €1, so there’s no excuse not to go. This piano alone makes it worthwhile!Surreal World

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4 thoughts on “It’s a Surreal World and We Just Live in It

  1. Really looking forward to getting into all of Utrecht’s cultural institutions. I did have a rather scarring experience with surreal art at the Groninger Museum (fingernail clippings in a block of cement) but I’m ready to dip my toe back into the pool!

    • There were a couple of individual pieces that I passed quickly due to their squick factor, but overall, it’s a really interesting exhibit. Utrecht really does have an interesting mix of museums and I’ve ended up enjoying them all, often more than I had expected. They’re definitely worth checking out.

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