After the Reina Sofía's summer of Salvador Dalí comes an equally surrealist fall. Two new shows in Madrid are celebrating the achievements of the art movement that united the everyday with the inconceivable. Surrealism and the Dream at the Thyssen focuses on painting, film and sculpture, while Surrealists before Surrealism at the Fundación Juan March concentrates on "fantasy and the fantastic in prints, drawings and photography."
The latter aims to be a tribute to Fantastic Art, Dada, Surrealism, the legendary exhibition curated by Alfred H. Barr at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1936, which, for the first time, juxtaposed contemporary works with those by the likes of Hieronymus Bosch, Giuseppe Arcimboldo, Giovanni Battista Piranesi and Francisco de Goya with the aim of giving surrealism its own artistic genealogy. Then, like now, Piranesi's impossible architecture is not so different from Giorgio de Chirico's shapes, nor does Brassäi's photo of a germinating tuber differ too much from Arcimboldo's faces made of fruit.
First shown in Nuremberg - from whose Germanisches Nationalmuseum most of the 200 exhibits come - the show is divided into 11 sections, each of which opens with a modern work before lurching back and forth in time and space - from France to Germany, the predominant countries, to Spain, home of names in such urgent need of recognition abroad as Maruja Mallo, José Caballero and Benjamín Palencia.
The usual suspects appear in both shows: Man Ray, Yves Tanguy, Óscar Domínguez and, of course, Dalí
The usual suspects appear in both shows: Man Ray, Yves Tanguy, Óscar Domínguez and, of course, Dalí, whose Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee Around a Pomegranate a Second Before Awakening promotes the Thyssen show. "It's not about picking just any surrealist work, but only those that suggest an expressive representation of the dream," says curator José Jiménez.
Many of the 163 pieces refer to the theme literally: as much by what they show - as in the case of Brassäi's series of photos of men sleeping on the streets of Paris - as their titles: Breton's Dream-object and Paul Delvaux's 1944 The dream.
The show also pays special attention to works by women: from Claude Cahun to Kay Sage and Ángeles Santos. In all, 11 female artists serve to show that "in surrealism they found for the first time a starring position beyond the role they carried out at the start of the movement as muses, objects of desire and partners," says Jiménez.
El Surrealismo y el Sueño. Until January 12 at Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Paseo del Prado 8, Madrid. www.museothyssen.org. Surrealistas antes del surrealismo. La fantasía y lo fantástico en la estampa, el dibujo y la fotografía. Until January 12 at Fundación Juan March, C/ Castelló 77, Madrid. www.march.es