Design Museum exhibition explores ‘surrealism and why it issues now’

Curator Kathryn Johnson explains the story behind Surrealism and its impression on design on this video produced by Dezeen for the Design Museum about its newest exhibition.

Entitled Objects of Need: Surrealism and Design 1924 – At present, the exhibition options practically 350 surrealist objects, spanning trend, furnishings and movie.

The exhibition, which was curated by Johnson, explores the conception of the surrealist motion of the Twenties and the impression it has had on the world of design since then.

The exhibition options practically 350 items of artwork, design, pictures, trend and movie

It options a number of the most recognizable surrealist work and sculptures, together with items by Salvador Dalí, Man Ray and Leonora Carrington, in addition to works from modern artists and designers resembling Dior and Björk.

“Surrealism was born out of the horrors of the First World Warfare, in a time of battle and uncertainty, and was a artistic response to that chaos,” Johnson stated within the video.

“He noticed within the fracturing of the world a chance to shake issues up, to do issues otherwise, to assume otherwise, and to acknowledge the unconscious and its significance to our on a regular basis lives.”

Chairs, sofas, red curtains and other objects displayed in the exhibition
The exhibition explores the beginnings of the Surrealist motion within the Twenties

The exhibition explores the impression of Surrealism on modern design, with virtually a 3rd of the objects on show relationship from the final 50 years.

“We wish to begin a dialog about what surrealism is and why it issues now,” Johnson stated.

The title of the exhibition refers back to the significance of the idea of need throughout the motion. Within the video, Johnson defined that the surrealist motion started with poetry, with French poet and creator André Breton writing the primary surrealist manifesto.

Breton described need as “the one motivating drive on the earth” and “the one grasp that males ought to acknowledge.”

Visitors viewing surreal artworks on display in the exhibition
The title of the exhibition refers back to the significance of the idea of need throughout the motion

The exhibition is segmented into 4 themes. It begins with an introduction to Surrealism within the Twenties and explores the motion’s affect on on a regular basis objects, in addition to its pivotal position within the evolution of design all through the twentieth century.

One other a part of the exhibition explores Surrealism and inside design, because the early protagonists of the motion have been all for capturing the aura or thriller of family objects.

Objects on show embody Marcel Duchamp’s Porte-Bouteilles, a sculpture produced from bottle holders, and Man Ray’s Cadeau/Audace, a standard flat iron with a single row of 14 nails.

Close-up of the Horse lamp created by the Front design studio in the exhibition
The primary Surrealists have been all for capturing the thriller of abnormal family objects

The exhibition continues to the Nineteen Forties, when designers started to make use of surrealist artwork for concepts to create shocking and humorous objects. Objects right here embody Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni’s Sella and Jasper Morrison’s Handlebar Desk.

A key part of the exhibition features a have a look at the importance of Surrealism in Britain, documenting the partnership between Salvador Dalí and the British poet and artwork patron Edward James, whose collaboration led to a few of Surrealism’s most notable works, resembling be Mae West Lips. couches and the Lobster telephone.

Salvador Dali's Lobster Telephone
The exhibition options a variety of Dalí’s items, together with the Lobster Phone

One other part of the exhibition examines Surrealism and the physique in relation to the human type, sexuality and need.

Included on this part are Sarah Lucas’s Cigarette Tits, wherein tabloid language is used to show stereotypes of feminine sexuality, and Najla el Zein’s Hay, which highlights the sensory pleasures afforded by on a regular basis supplies.

Pictures, classic journal covers and trend gadgets are on show to indicate the impression of Surrealism on the style trade from the Thirties onwards.

Visitors looking at four mannequins wearing surrealist-inspired fashion
The exhibition options trend and objects that discover the human type, sexuality and need

In keeping with Johnson, “Surrealism attracted extra girls than every other motion since Romanticism.” In consequence, she wished to make sure that there was a broad illustration of feminine artists and designers within the exhibition.

“I feel that was partly due to considerations with the physique, with sexuality and the way home issues have been key themes of Surrealism early on,” she stated.

“However these themes have been approached in a really authentic and significant approach by the ladies related to the motion — a few of whom may not have thought-about themselves surrealist, however they have been in dialogue with these concepts.”

A chair with an upholstered bra on the back
Surrealism attracted extra girls than every other motion since Romanticism, in response to Johnson

The ultimate part of the exhibition seems to be on the Surrealist preoccupation with difficult the artistic course of itself and the way this led to authentic art work and design.

In keeping with Johnson, modern designers nonetheless use concepts from early Surrealism, resembling taking probabilities within the artistic course of or utilizing strategies resembling automatism.

“Surrealists attempt to write and draw with out considering, and in exhibitions and research we see that they attract an automated approach. However now, in fact, modern designers produce other instruments to make use of to attempt to circumvent the acquainted and the standard. Johnson stated.

Visitors looking at a sculpture in surreal light
The exhibition is on show on the Design Museum till February 19, 2023

An instance of this within the exhibition is the Sketch Chair by design studio Entrance, which was produced utilizing movement seize know-how to translate the motion of the mid-air drawing right into a 3D printed type.

“The Surrealists knew that altering the thoughts would change the fabric world, and now we’re on this scary however thrilling second the place we’re creating a pc intelligence that may be artistic,” Johnson stated.

Objects of Need: Surrealism and Design 1924 – At present opened on the Design Museum on 14 October 2022 and is on show till 19 February 2o23.

Tickets can be found at

Partnership Content material

This video was produced by Dezeen for the Design Museum as a part of a partnership. Discover out extra about Dezeen’s partnership content material right here.

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