‘Another World: Dali, Magritte, Miró and the Surrealists’ – 13th November 2010

'Ithell Colquhoun, Gouffres Amers − Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery, University of Glasgow'

‘Ithell Colquhoun, Gouffres Amers − Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery, University of Glasgow’

This was the first of hopefully many study visits arranged for OCA students in Edinburgh.   ‘Another World’ is the major summer exhibition at the Dean Gallery, running until 9th January 2011, and the show offers a fascinating overview of Surrealism, one of the most important art movements of the twentieth century.  The Gallery owns a world-class collection of surrealist art and also has a library of rare illustrated books, catalogues, manuscripts and journals by surrealist artists.

There was a fantastic response to my proposal for an all-day visit to this exhibition and an enthusiastic group of students took part.  In Surrealism there is something for everyone and there was a really good mix of students from different courses – drawing, painting, photography & creative writing.  Everyone welcomed the opportunity to visit an exhibition with other students and, although there may have been initial doubt that a whole day could be spent wandering around a single exhibition, there was general amazement that the time could pass so quickly.

As tutor, I provided a guided tour of the exhibition space in the morning to show the birth and development of Surrealism through Dada and on to the iconic Surrealist artworks of the 1920s and 30s, before looking at British Surrealism and the legacy of this art movement.  It was a wonderful experience to see works of art only previously seen in photographs – a visual feast of work by artists including Marcel Duchamp, Man Ray, Lee Miller, Kurt Schwitters, Yves Tanguy, Max Ernst, Georges De Chirico, Frances Picabia, Pablo Picasso, Paul Klee, Rene Magritte, Salvador Dali, Alberto Giacometti, Joan Miró, Eileen Agar, Paul Nash, Paul Delvaux, Henry Moore, Roland Penrose, Desmond Morris, Dorothea Tanning, Edith Rimmington and many more.  We were able to examine iconic artworks such as Duchamp’s ‘Fountain’ and Magritte’s shaped canvas ‘Representation’ in detail and looked at a diverse array of work in collage, paint, sculpture, photography and print.  It was an also an opportunity for us to consider the legacy of Surrealism in the work of contemporary artists.

Lunch together in the gallery café was followed by much purchasing of postcards of images in the shop, then a discussion in the library on how to conduct gallery research for the logbook, before there was an opportunity to wander around the gallery to sketch and make notes.   I was able to keep in touch with everyone over the afternoon to discuss each individual’s response to particular works of art and offer advice on drawing if required.  We met together again as a group before the end of our visit to discuss some of the highlights of the exhibition, each person talking a little about their favourite artwork.  Having spent all day in the Gallery, there was general agreement that we had only scratched the surface of Surrealism and most of us will try to return if possible before the end of this wonderful exhibition.

I arranged this visit in response to student forum discussions on the OCA website, requesting something for people outside London and there is no doubt that it was a valuable and enjoyable experience.  The final conclusion was a unanimous “more events like this please” – so I’ll definitely look at forthcoming exhibitions for ideas.

For anyone interested in this exhibition who can’t visit in person, I recommend the gallery’s website for your logbook research.  It can be found at the following link: http://www.nationalgalleries.org/whatson/exhibition/5:368/18379

Jane Mitchell (OCA Tutor)

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5 comments for “‘Another World: Dali, Magritte, Miró and the Surrealists’ – 13th November 2010

  1. 18 November 2010 at 5:29 pm

    I really enjoy having a guided tour of the Surrealists and their work. It is still a mystery to me. Sounds like a great time.

  2. MB
    20 November 2010 at 11:32 pm

    Without the guided tour I wouldn’t have enjoyed this exhibition nearly as much. There was exactly the right mix of individual and group work.

    As a photography student, I didn’t imagine that I would find this exhibition nearly as interesting as I did. But I gained a new perspective as I learned about other Surrealists’ work, not just the famous ones. It was good to learn about study techniques for exhibitions. The library session followed by the opportunity quietly to consider interesting artworks, together with the invididual guidance available during this sketching session, were especially useful. I came away with lots of ideas for my photography.

  3. Lindsay
    21 November 2010 at 11:32 am

    It was an excellent opportunity for me to learn about surrealism and the links between the psychological, philosophical and literary movements and the visual artists. As a Creative Writing student, I also really enjoyed meeting up with OCA photographers and artists. And then there was the chance to write some surreal poetry….! Thanks to Jane for bringing everything together so skillfully – hope there may be some more events in Scotland soon.

  4. 22 November 2010 at 10:01 am

    Thanks for writing this post Jane. The exhibition is a bit out of the way for me, being based in Bristol, but I hope that photography students up North and in Scotland go and see it. I’m a photography tutor and always encourage my students to look at surrealism for inspiration on how to look at the world differently. I agree with you that in surrealism there is something for everyone, and that goes for photographers too. One of my favourite contemporary photographers, Cristobal Hara, is a surrealist. (see http://www.steidlville.com/books/576-Autobiography.html). Thinking about it, I can see his influence in some of my own work, which is a bit scary…

  5. Juliana
    27 November 2010 at 11:50 am

    I have just started the Drawing 1 so it was an excellent opportunity to meet other students and the Dean Gallery and talk to a tutor. I haven’t seen much work of the Surrealists before, certainly not an exhibition which was so varied and intense and Jane Mitchell lead us through it, focussing on particular works with explanations which made sense of the images addding a richness which would have taken a long time to achieve without guidance. Thank you Jane.

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