July 20, 2019November 10, 2019

Strange Days: Dada, Surrealism, and the Book

Strange Days: Dada, Surrealism, and the Book brings together rarely seen work from several of the greatest artists of the twentieth century, including Pablo Picasso, Max Ernst, Man Ray, Joan Miró, Louise Bourgeois, and others.

Poets and artists launched the Dada movement in 1916, holding a mirror of absurdity to the skewed rationalism of a society they deemed responsible for the horrors of World War I. In 1924, poet André Breton’s Surrealist Manifesto fully established a new movement to go beyond what he viewed as the dead-end nihilism of Dada, invoking Freudian notions of the primacy of dreams and the unconscious while embracing the Dadaists' practice of chance operations.

Collaboration between artists and poets was common. For the Dadaists and Surrealists, the book form was an ideal performance space, uniquely suited to a meeting of disparate elements, as in collage, dream imagery, or free association in writing. The books in this exhibition offer eloquent testimony to the liberating power of hybrid expression.

Image: Kurt Schwitters, Theo Van Doesburg, "Kleine Dada - Soirée, Programma" (The Hague, 1922), 1922. Poster, color lithograph on off-white paper, 11 13/16 x 11 13/16 in. (30 x 30 cm). Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Museum purchase, Reva and David Logan Collection of Illustrated Books, Reva and David Logan Fund, 2001.12

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This exhibition is included with general admission. Become a member and see it for free.