Opening on February 27, an exhibition that explores the radical and multilayered nature of Surrealist photography. Under the Surface: Surrealist Photography will feature photographs created by leading Surrealist artists, such as Eugene Atget, Andre Kertsz, Rene Magritte, Man Ray, and Maurice Tabard. In addition to presenting works from the movement's European roots in the 1920s and 1930s, Under the Surface will highlight the extensive reach of Surrealist influence both geographically, by showcasing works of American and Central American artists, and temporally, by tracing the movement's reverberations through the 1960s. The exhibition will be on view at Bowdoin from February 27 through June 1, 2014, and will be shown in conjunction with a film installation, Surrealism in Motion, featuring Man Ray's Retour a la Raison and Hans Richter's Ghosts Before Breakfast.
To mark the opening of the exhibition, a keynote lecture, "Strange Passion: Frederick Sommer's Wartime Surrealism" by Robin Kelsey, Shirley Carter Burden Professor of Photography and Director of Graduate Studies in the History of Art and Architecture Department at Harvard University will take place at 4:30 p.m. on Friday, February 28 in Kresge Auditorium, Visual Arts Center, Bowdoin College. A reception celebrating the exhibition will follow on Friday evening from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. in the Bowdoin College Museum of Art.
A film screening and discussion, "Science is Fiction:' A Selection of Films by Jean Painlev," will take place on Monday, March 3, at 6:00 p.m. in Smith Auditorium, Sill Hall, Bowdoin College. All events are open to the public free of charge.
Originating in early 20th-century Paris, Surrealism sought to demonstrate how human psychological impulses could be contemplated and depicted in everyday life. Inspired by Dadaism's embrace of experimental approaches to the creation of art, Sigmund Freud's psychoanalytical theories, and the disillusioned aftermath of World War I, the Surrealists became known for creating bizarre, disturbing, and often inexplicable images. Under the Surface will examine how Surrealists experimented both in front of the camera and in the darkroom to transform a traditionally representational art form into a vehicle for rendering the fantastical. Works such as Henri Cartier-Bresson's Brussels (1932) and Erwin Blumenfeld's Solarized Double Mirror Nude (1946) will invite audiences to consider how Surrealists used visual motifs such as veils, mirrors, screens, and filters, as well as technical manipulations such as photograms, multiple exposures, solarization, and photomontage to confuse and unsettle the viewer.
Featuring over sixty works, Under the Surface will be installed according to the themes of portraiture, still life, bodies, street scenes, and dream scenes, and will demonstrate the range of subjects that the Surrealists addressed through photography. The exhibition will explore how Surrealist photographers experimented with both literal and figurative forms of layering to create striking, enigmatic images. Notable examples include one of Man Ray's first "rayographs," Untitled (1921), which distorts recognizable objects into an abstract composition, Hans Bellmer's La Poupe (1934), one of the artist's many depictions of anatomically incorrect "dolls" in suggestive poses, and Eugene Atget's Cour, 28 Rue Bonaparte, Paris (1910), an eerie documentation of the abandoned streets of Old Paris.