Henri Rousseau. The Dream. 1910. Oil on canvas, 6' 8 1/2" × 9' 9 1/2" (204.5 × 298.5 cm). Gift of Nelson A. Rockefeller
  • MoMA, Floor 5, 518 The Alfred H. Barr, Jr. Galleries

At first glance, Paul Cézanne’s apples, Henri Rousseau’s junglescapes, and Giorgio de Chirico’s eerie arcades may appear to have little in common. All, however, were celebrated by French poet André Breton as key precursors in an art historical lineage leading up to Surrealism’s arrival, which he announced by manifesto in 1924. For Breton, progress in art was marked by a return to what he described as “the wild eye,” untainted by convention and reason.

What unites the disparate works in this gallery is a turn away from external sources of inspiration toward an internal model based on direct, unmediated experience. These artists—who range from the 19th century’s Georges Seurat to Breton’s contemporaries Paul Klee and Pablo Picasso—rejected the idea of painting as a copy of the visible world in favor of that which is hidden, and perceptible only to the artist.

9 works online


Installation images

How we identified these works

In 2018–19, MoMA collaborated with Google Arts & Culture Lab on a project using machine learning to identify artworks in installation photos. That project has concluded, and works are now being identified by MoMA staff.

If you notice an error, please contact us at [email protected].


If you would like to reproduce an image of a work of art in MoMA’s collection, or an image of a MoMA publication or archival material (including installation views, checklists, and press releases), please contact Art Resource (publication in North America) or Scala Archives (publication in all other geographic locations).

All requests to license audio or video footage produced by MoMA should be addressed to Scala Archives at [email protected]. Motion picture film stills or motion picture footage from films in MoMA’s Film Collection cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. For licensing motion picture film footage it is advised to apply directly to the copyright holders. For access to motion picture film stills please contact the Film Study Center. More information is also available about the film collection and the Circulating Film and Video Library.

If you would like to reproduce text from a MoMA publication, please email [email protected]. If you would like to publish text from MoMA’s archival materials, please fill out this permission form and send to [email protected].


This record is a work in progress. If you have additional information or spotted an error, please send feedback to [email protected].