view from below a staircase

The Subversive Eye: Surrealist and Experimental Photography from the David Raymond Collection

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November 16, 2024 – April 27, 2025

In 1935, Salvador Dalí called his paintings “color photography done by hand,” signaling the immense importance of photography as a Surrealist medium. Debuting in relation to the movement’s literary production, photography came to define a range of avant-garde practices around the world. In the hands of Surrealists and the experimental photographers they inspired, the camera became a mechanism for discovering visual poetry, and seeing the world in a new way. With a dizzying array of tactics, including multiple exposure, unusual perspectives, cropping, and solarization, Surrealists rapidly made the medium their own and their procedures radiated throughout Western and Eastern Europe, the Americas and Japan.

In celebration of the centennial of the founding of Surrealism in 1924, this exhibition will feature over 100 works created by 48 artists, highlighting the movement’s original aims in the medium of photography and its far-reaching influence. By exploring the capacities of the medium, it will highlight how artists have ultimately used photographic techniques to question the nature of seeing itself, delving deeply into the inner realm.

Notable artists include Eileen Agar, Eugène Atget, Joseph Bartuska, Hans Bellmer, Brassaï, Manuel Alvarez-Bravo, Robert Capa, Georges Hugnet, Clarence John Laughlin, Dora Maar, Lee Miller, Lucia Moholy, Osamu Shiihara, Man Ray and Wols. Dora Maar will be represented by no less than eighteen rare vintage prints. Importantly, the exhibition will explore the numerous ties between Surrealist ideas and Eastern European, German and Japanese experimental practices. The exhibition presents Surrealisms, broadly conceived, as multi-faceted, complex and global phenomena that often complement the aesthetics and ambitions of other avant-gardes around the globe.

The exhibition is curated by William Jeffett, Chief Curator at The Dalí Museum, with works on loan from artist and art collector David Raymond. Since 1985, Raymond has pushed the boundary of the definition of “the surreal,” working to expand the canon in his collecting practice. Beginning in 2007, when over 160 works gathered by Raymond became part of the collection of the Cleveland Museum of Art, he found his passion for collecting became even stronger. This will be the first exhibition in a decade to debut the fruits of his labor.

This special exhibition is included in the price of Gallery Admission. To reserve your ticket for this exhibit, book your visit during the exhibit timeframe (Nov 16, 2024 – Apr 27, 2025). Tickets are typically available up to 30 days in advance.