In the one hundred years since Surrealism first made its mark on the art world as a literary movement, the genre has served as a means to understand, process, and critique our individual experiences, society, and current events. Ripe for revisiting during “these unprecedented times,” Surrealish delves into the Kalamazoo Institute of Art’s broad collection. Works by Surrealist masters like Salvador Dali and Joan Miro will be on display alongside the works of contemporary and regional artists, who continue to be inspired by the movement, like Richard Hunt, John Baldessari, Jerry Uelsmann, Kenji Nakahashi, and Kalamazoo artist Mary Hatch.
Surrealish will exhibit works central and tangential to the themes and ideas which have remained prevalent and at the forefront of Surrealist art. Since the French poet Guillaume Apollinaire coined the term in 1917, people have used the word ‘surreal’ repeatedly to describe events that are extreme in nature and difficult to process like the aftermath of World War I (1914-1918), natural disasters, terrorist attacks like 9/11, or global health pandemics. Some of the works on view blur the lines between man, animal, and machine creating enticing and curious scenes to discover. Other works reveal an uncanny and sometimes uncomfortable approach to depicting everyday items. Still, other artists on view explore the unconscious to find something in the human experience that was larger than themselves. Let’s delve into the conscious and unconscious minds of artists over the last 100 years to witness how extraordinary times have and can offer our world a means of free expression, exchange of ideas, and open conversation.