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TAG: SURREALISM

Posts tagged ‘Surrealism’
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January 8, 2014  |  Family & Kids, Learning and Engagement
Adventures in Surrealist Family Art Workshops

As an educator at MoMA, one of the projects I have the most fun with is the Family Art Workshops. Workshops are programs where a museum educator leads a group through both a gallery experience and a hands-on art-making activity in a studio. I look forward to planning these, because usually museum educators do a lot of independent lesson planning, but for the workshops we get to work in teams. I’ve always loved collaborative brainstorming, so working together on these projects exercises that part of my brain. This fall, I put my head together with fellow Family Programs Educators Shannon Murphy, Keonna Hendrick, and Lynn Seeney to plan a workshop called Dreamscapes.

Our challenge was to make René Magritte’s work approachable for the workshop’s target age of four- to six-year-olds and their accompanying adults. Each educator teaching the workshop over the course of several weeks would do things slightly differently, but our general plan was to take families into the Magritte exhibition to discover how he painted everyday objects and made them strange or transformed in a variety of ways. After looking at and discussing a few paintings, we would head down to the studio to make Magritte-inspired Surrealist collages with cut shapes and patterned papers.

Our supplies were ordered, and we were ready to go, but there was one hiccup in our plans. By the time we hit late November/early December when our workshops were set to take place, the exhibition galleries were so crowded with Magritte devotees that we couldn’t reasonably expect groups of 20 kids and adults to maneuver through the space or sit on the floor to focus on paintings together.

Time for Plan B.

Looking at Surrealist paintings in the Museum's galleries. Photo: Johnny Tan

Looking at Surrealist paintings in the Museum’s galleries. Photo: Johnny Tan

Having a Plan B ready to go quickly and smoothly is the name of the game when you’re a museum educator, and we had a seasoned team of flexible educators contributing to this workshop. Luckily, we’re working at MoMA, where there is no shortage of great art, so we were able to shift our focus to some of the Surrealist works in the fifth-floor Painting and Sculpture Galleries. Thanks to the work of Marcel Duchamp, Giorgio de Chirico, and Salvador Dalí, we were able to get families to notice some of the main ideas—such as altering the way objects function, or compositional choices that create surreal spaces—that would help them collaborate on their own collage-style dreamscapes.

A MoMA educator demonstrating collage techniques. Photo: Johnny Tan

A MoMA educator demonstrating collage techniques. Photo: Johnny Tan

Participants working on collages. Photo: Johnny Tan

Participants working on collages. Photo: Johnny Tan

In the end, they may not have seen the Magritte paintings we’d originally intended to show, but the families who participated got to learn about transforming objects and settings to change a typical landscape into a mysterious dreamscape. And their collages would do any of the Surrealists proud, if you ask me.

A participant's finished collage. Photo: Rachel Ropeik

A participant’s finished collage. Photo: Rachel Ropeik

A participant's finished collage. Photo: Rachel Ropeik

A participant’s finished collage. Photo: Rachel Ropeik

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Magritte’s The Menaced Assassin, 1927—Treatment and Research

As indicated in the previous posts in this series, MoMA paintings conservators Cindy Albertson, Anny Aviram, and Michael Duffy have been studying five Magritte paintings for the past two years in preparation for Magritte: The Mystery of the Ordinary, 1926–1938. Read more

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October 31, 2013  |  Collection & Exhibitions, Conservation
The Discovery of Magritte’s The Enchanted Pose

As indicated in the previous post in this series, MoMA paintings conservators Cindy Albertson, Anny Aviram, and Michael Duffy have been studying five Magritte paintings for the past two years in preparation for Magritte: The Mystery of the Ordinary 1926–1938. Read more

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October 21, 2013  |  Collection & Exhibitions
The Sincerest Form of Flattery

Halloween at my high school was never boring. The classic 1980 movie Fame was inspired by NYC’s La Guardia HS, and was pretty accurate: you would indeed hear gospel singing in a music room above you during homeroom, see young actors heatedly rehearsing scenes in the hallways, and the art students—ah, the art students. I knew them well as I was among them. Some were mind-bogglingly prodigious, and perhaps as a result, Halloween proved to be a way to show off the skillz that would surely later in life pay the billz. Case in point: Tristan Elwell’s costume one year.

When I saw the above photo again after lo, so many years (please also note the existence of not one, not two, but three mullets behind Tristan), I felt the inevitable surge of nostalgia, and also a sense of synchronicity. The Magritte exhibition had just begun, and as such my head was full of green apples and bowler hats.

I found myself wondering what other Magritte-ian things were out there. As it so happens, Anne and Danielle, the curators of Magritte: The Mystery of the Ordinary, 1926­–1938, had already done their own Internet searching and found several clever and charming things like this:

Hilary B Price, Rhymes with Orange, “Magritte Arrives Home”

Hilary B. Price, Rhymes with Orange, “Magritte Arrives Home

And this:

Of course, people aren’t only riffing on The Son of Man.* The Treachery of Images (This Is Not a Pipe) is equally well-known, if not more so.

In fact, even the cover of the book I was reading at the time happened to reflect this beloved painting.

The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks, 2011 Picador Edition, cover illustration by Paul Slater

The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks, 2011 Picador Edition, cover illustration by Paul Slater

But I have to admit this last one, inspired by the spooky and haunting The Lovers, is my favorite of these. Not as spooky and haunting as the real thing, but not exactly a laugh riot, either, these parking lot lovers managed to create their own work of art. And as we all know, Plastic Bags Are Not a Toy. How riskily romantic of them!

Michael Kauffmann, The Lovers, 2012

Michael Kauffmann. The Lovers. 2012

And then I stumbled upon Andrea K. Scott’s article in the New Yorker, in which she declared “Magritte’s art has been hijacked…from the Beatles’ record label to a Volkswagen ad to a bowler-hat light fixture.” Hijacked is a strong word, Ms. Scott! After all, Magritte’s art isn’t the first to inspire inventive takeoffs.

See a few more Magritte tributes on our recently launched MoMA Tumblr.

* Son of Man is not on view in MoMA’s current exhibition, as it was painted in 1964, after Magritte’s breakthrough years. However, The Lovers and The Treachery of Images (This Is Not a Pipe) are.

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October 13, 2011  |  Artists, Collection & Exhibitions
Closing the Gap: Max Ernst through the Lens of the Lower East Side

A couple of weekends ago I walked around Manhattan’s Lower East Side in silence, holding a postcard with a rectangular hole cut out of it in front of me, seeing the city anew through a cardboard window. I was being led around by two artists on a “silent performative tour” of the area Read more

December 17, 2009  |  Artists, Collection & Exhibitions
A Surrealist Sketchbook: Enrico Donati
Enrico Donati, American, born Italy. 1909-2008. Untitled (Sketchbook). c. 1944. Ink on paper ( three details shown), 10 x 8" (25.4 x 20.3 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Adele Donati. © The Museum of Modern Art, New York

Enrico Donati. Untitled (Sketchbook). c. 1944. Ink on paper (three details shown), 10 x 8" (25.4 x 20.3 cm). The Museum of Modern Art. Gift of Adele Donati. © 2009 The Museum of Modern Art

One of the little-known highlights in the collection of the Department of Drawings is our vast array of artists’ sketchbooks, which range from intimate diaristic notations and markings, to explicit studies for complete works in other mediums, to accomplished works unto themselves, rendered as carefully and thoughtfully as paintings, for example, of the same subject matter.

This past May we received, as a gift, an outstanding example of an artist’s sketchbook. Enrico Donati, who passed away last year at the age of 99, was considered to be “the last of the Surrealists.” His wife, Adele Donati, approached the Museum about donating one of his sketchbooks to the collection. Read more