London exhibition to examine the influence of surrealism on design | Art and design

Surrealism often evokes the melted clocks of Salvador Dalí or the image of a pipe by René Magritte, placed precisely above the words “this is not a pipe”.

However, despite the success of exhibitions in the best galleries in New York and London, the height of the movement was between the 1920s and the 1960s.

Now an exhibition at the Design Museum in West London, Objects of Desire: Surrealism and Design 1924-Today, will try to update it. It will examine the influence of surrealism on the world of design and how it revolutionized art and design, from decorative arts and furniture to interiors, fashion, photography and film.

Nearly 350 objects will be exhibited, including works by Dalí, the most famous surrealist artist. His work will be exhibited alongside his contemporaries Marcel Duchamp, Man Ray and Leonora Carrington, as well as pieces by Dior, artist Sarah Lucas, musician Björk and fashion photographer Tim Walker. Nearly a third of the exhibits will date from the last 50 years.

Surrealism was born after the First World War, and has its roots in the Dada and Cubist movement. He looked at imaginative, creative and offbeat approaches to the arts.

Talking about his famous pipe painting, The Treachery of Images, Magritte said, “It’s just a performance, isn’t it? So if I had written on my photo “It’s a pipe”, I would have lied!

The exhibition will begin at the beginnings of surrealism in the 1920s and examine how it influenced everyday objects. Part of the exhibit is the Tour de Gae Aulenti, a glass table supported by four bicycle wheels and set with chrome forks. Saddle by brothers Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni will also be presented, a post-mounted bicycle saddle, fixed on a hemispherical base, blurring the line between furniture and art.

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The partnership between Dalí and the British poet and art patron Edward James led to the creation of world-renowned surreal interior design pieces. This includes the Mae West Lips sofa, which has been described as the most important surreal piece of furniture in the UK.

The exhibition opens on October 14. Tickets are on sale now and the exhibition will run until mid-February 2023.

Kathryn Johnson, curator of the exhibition, said: “If you think surrealism died out in the 1960s, think again. This exhibition will show that he is still very much alive and that he never really disappeared.

“The first Surrealists were survivors of World War I and the 1918 flu pandemic, and their art was partly a reaction to those horrors. Today, against the backdrop of dizzying technological change, war and another global pandemic, the spirit of surrealism feels more alive than ever in contemporary design.

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