Surrealism in Motion

Museum of Art Museum of Art

Exhibition: Surrealism in Motion



Media Gallery
A selection of short films by Surrealist filmmakers in conjunction with the exhibition "Under the Surface: Surrealist Photography."

Selected Works

Still from "Manhatta," 1921, film by Charles Sheeler, American, 1883-1965, and Paul Strand, American, 1890-1976. Courtesy Cohen Film Collection.


Surrealist filmmakers used techniques similar to those used in other media—illogical juxtapositions, enigmatic situations, chance processes, and abstraction—but added time and motion to their unsettling experiments. The Bowdoin College Museum of Art will present a selection of short films in conjunction with the exhibition Under the Surface: Surrealist Photography.

April 15 to June 1, 2014

Ralph Steiner, H2O, 1929, 12 min.
Charles Sheeler and Paul Strand, Manhatta, 1921, 10 min.

Films Courtesy Cohen Film Collection.

Though we might think of avant-garde and documentary filmmaking as two totally different practices, early documentary films linked modernist fragmentation and juxtaposition with more descriptive techniques to produce works that explored film’s radical potential to transform art and politics. Students in the Spring 2014 course “The Reality Effect: Documentary Film,” taught by visiting assistant professor of film studies Sarah Childress, selected these two films to explore this practice.

February 27 to April 13, 2014

Man Ray (American, 1890-1976), Return to Reason, 1923, 2 minutes
Hans Richter (German, 1888-1976), Ghosts Before Breakfast, 1928, 9 minutes

Man Ray’s interest in light and movement found ideal expression in the relatively new medium of motion pictures. In Return to Reason, he cobbled together imagery derived from his photographs into an abstracted composition that explores the dualities of black and white. Hans Richter presents a more narrative but equally disorienting approach to film in Ghosts Before Breakfasts. Objects like hats, dishes, and guns move on their own, men disappear behind lampposts, and time moves in five-minute bursts, returning to normal just in time for afternoon tea.  


February 27, 2014 | 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. | Bowdoin College Museum of Art
Exhibition Preview and Reception for Museum Members: Under the Surface: Surrealist Photography
A special preview of Under the Surface: Surrealist Photography, including tours and presentations by Andrea Rosen, curatorial assistant at the Museum of Art along with students from "Modernism/Modernity" a course taught in the fall of 2013 by Harrison King McCann Professor of English Marilyn Reizbaum.

February 28, 2014 | 4:30 p.m. | Kresge Auditorium, Visual Arts Center
"Strange Passion: Frederick Sommer's Wartime Surrealism"
Robin Kelsey, Burden Professor of Photography and Chair of the Department of History of Art and Architecture, Harvard University. Kelsey has written extensively on photography, landscape, and American art and will speak about the American surrealist photographer Frederick Sommer.

February 28, 2014 | 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. | Bowdoin College Museum of Art
Open House at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art
A festive reception to anticipate spring and celebrate the current exhibitions, including Under the Surface: Surrealist Photography.

March 3, 2014 | 6:00 p.m. | Smith Auditorium, Sills Hall
"'Science is Fiction': A Selection of Films by Jean Painlev"
Discussion and Film Screening
Sarah Childress, visiting assistant professor of film studies; Damon Gannon, director of Bowdoin scientific station of Kent Island; Andrea Rosen, curatorial assistant, Bowdoin College Museum of Art; and students in the Spring 2014 course "The Reality Effect: Documentary Film" participate.

April 10, 2014 | 7:00 p.m. | Bowdoin College Museum of Art
Thursday Night Salon at the Museum of Art: "Man Ray and Marcel Duchamp and the Surrealist Movement"
Anne Collins Goodyear, co-director of the Bowdoin College Museum of Art will speak about the role of Man Ray and Marcel Duchamp in the Surrealist Movement, focusing on works in Under the Surface: Surrealist Photography.

May 1, 2014 | 4:30 p.m. | Bowdoin College Museum of Art
Gallery Talk on the exhibition Under the Surface: Surrealist Photography
Jessica May, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Portland Museum of Art and curator of the 2013 Portland Museum of Art Biennial, will join Andrea Rosen, curatorial assistant and curator of Under the Surface: Surrealist Photography, for an informal gallery talk.