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British Surrealism


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Surrealism was one of the most influential avant-garde movements of the twentieth century. ‘Discovered’ in 1920 by the French poet André Breton, it emerged from the horrifying irrationality of the First World War, the revolutionary nonsense of Dadaist art and the penetrating theories of Freudian psychoanalysis. It explored the illogical, the dreamlike, the marvellous; it intended to liberate the imagination, free the mind and change the world. With its unique history of outlandish creativity and its soft spot for the absurd, Britain was a perfect breeding ground for the surreal.

Produced in conjunction with Dulwich Picture Gallery’s British Surrealism exhibition in 2020, this publication features works by Eileen Agar, Edward Burra, Cecil Collins, Paul Nash, Henry Moore, Graham Sutherland, Francis Bacon, Leonora Carrington, Lucian Freud and Paule Vézelay. Delving back to the artists and writers who were the ‘Ancestors of Surrealism’, the influence of Lewis Carroll, William Blake, Henry Fuseli and William Shakespeare is explored.

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