Design Museum exhibition explores ‘surrealism and why it issues now’

Design Museum exhibition explores ‘surrealism and why it issues now’
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Curator Kathryn Johnson explains the story behind Surrealism and its impression on design on this video produced by Dezeen for the Design Museum about its newest exhibition.

Entitled Objects of Need: Surrealism and Design 1924 – Right this moment, the exhibition options practically 350 surrealist objects, spanning trend, furnishings and movie.

The exhibition, which was curated by Johnson, explores the conception of the surrealist motion of the Twenties and the impression it has had on the world of design since then.

Salvador Dalí's Mae West Lips sofa on display at the exhibition
The exhibition options practically 350 items of artwork, design, images, trend and movie

It options among the most recognizable surrealist work and sculptures, together with items by Salvador Dalí, Man Ray and Leonora Carrington, in addition to works from up to date artists and designers corresponding to Dior and Björk.

“Surrealism was born out of the horrors of the First World Conflict, in a time of battle and uncertainty, and was a artistic response to that chaos,” Johnson mentioned within the video.

“He noticed within the fracturing of the world a possibility to shake issues up, to do issues in another way, to suppose in another way, and to acknowledge the unconscious and its significance to our on a regular basis lives.”

Chairs, sofas, red curtains and other objects displayed in the exhibition
The exhibition explores the beginnings of the Surrealist motion within the Twenties

The exhibition explores the impression of Surrealism on up to date design, with nearly a 3rd of the objects on show courting from the final 50 years.

“We wish to begin a dialog about what surrealism is and why it issues now,” Johnson mentioned.

The title of the exhibition refers back to the significance of the idea of need inside the motion. Within the video, Johnson defined that the surrealist motion started with poetry, with French poet and creator André Breton writing the primary surrealist manifesto.

Breton described need as “the one motivating drive on the planet” and “the one grasp that males ought to acknowledge.”

Visitors viewing surreal artworks on display in the exhibition
The title of the exhibition refers back to the significance of the idea of need inside the motion

The exhibition is segmented into 4 themes. It begins with an introduction to Surrealism within the Twenties and explores the motion’s affect on on a regular basis objects, in addition to its pivotal position within the evolution of design all through the twentieth century.

One other a part of the exhibition explores Surrealism and inside design, because the early protagonists of the motion have been involved in capturing the aura or thriller of family objects.

Objects on show embrace Marcel Duchamp’s Porte-Bouteilles, a sculpture created from bottle holders, and Man Ray’s Cadeau/Audace, a standard flat iron with a single row of 14 nails.

Close-up of the Horse lamp created by the Front design studio in the exhibition
The primary Surrealists have been involved in capturing the thriller of odd family objects

The exhibition continues to the Nineteen Forties, when designers started to make use of surrealist artwork for concepts to create shocking and humorous objects. Gadgets right here embrace Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni’s Sella and Jasper Morrison’s Handlebar Desk.

A key part of the exhibition features a take a look at the importance of Surrealism in Britain, documenting the partnership between Salvador Dalí and the British poet and artwork patron Edward James, whose collaboration led to a few of Surrealism’s most notable works, corresponding to be Mae West Lips. couches and the Lobster cellphone.

Salvador Dali's Lobster Telephone
The exhibition options numerous Dalí’s items, together with the Lobster Phone

One other part of the exhibition examines Surrealism and the physique in relation to the human type, sexuality and need.

Included on this part are Sarah Lucas’s Cigarette Tits, wherein tabloid language is used to reveal stereotypes of feminine sexuality, and Najla el Zein’s Hay, which highlights the sensory pleasures afforded by on a regular basis supplies.

Images, classic journal covers and trend objects are on show to point out the impression of Surrealism on the style business from the Nineteen Thirties onwards.

Visitors looking at four mannequins wearing surrealist-inspired fashion
The exhibition options trend and objects that discover the human type, sexuality and need

In accordance with Johnson, “Surrealism attracted extra girls than some other motion since Romanticism.” In consequence, she wished to make sure that there was a broad illustration of feminine artists and designers within the exhibition.

“I feel that was partly due to issues with the physique, with sexuality and the way home issues have been key themes of Surrealism early on,” she mentioned.

“However these themes have been approached in a really authentic and important means by the ladies related to the motion — a few of whom won’t have thought of themselves surrealist, however they have been in dialogue with these concepts.”

A chair with an upholstered bra on the back
Surrealism attracted extra girls than some other motion since Romanticism, based on Johnson

The ultimate part of the exhibition appears to be like on the Surrealist preoccupation with difficult the artistic course of itself and the way this led to authentic paintings and design.

In accordance with Johnson, up to date designers nonetheless use concepts from early Surrealism, corresponding to taking probabilities within the artistic course of or utilizing strategies corresponding to automatism.

“Surrealists attempt to write and draw with out pondering, and in exhibitions and research we see that they attract an computerized means. However now, after all, up to date designers produce other instruments to make use of to attempt to circumvent the acquainted and the traditional. Johnson mentioned.

Visitors looking at a sculpture in surreal light
The exhibition is on show on the Design Museum till February 19, 2023

An instance of this within the exhibition is the Sketch Chair by design studio Entrance, which was produced utilizing movement seize know-how to translate the motion of the mid-air drawing right into a 3D printed type.

“The Surrealists knew that altering the thoughts would change the fabric world, and now we’re on this scary however thrilling second the place we’re creating a pc intelligence that may be artistic,” Johnson mentioned.

Objects of Need: Surrealism and Design 1924 – Right this moment opened on the Design Museum on 14 October 2022 and is on show till 19 February 2o23.

Tickets can be found at

Partnership Content material

This video was produced by Dezeen for the Design Museum as a part of a partnership. Discover out extra about Dezeen’s partnership content material right here.

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