Antonin Artaud used to say that surrealism was " the scream coming from the mind". The freedom in the design of objects, that is what the exhibition presented at the V&A, intends to explore.
Mae West Lips sofa Salvador Dalí (1938).
In the 20th century the surrealism movementreached every area of creation. Its anti Cartesian aesthetic founded on the association of oniric images and Freudian fantasies overwhelmed our perception of objects. From Dalí to Monty Pythn, the collective unconsciousness has mixed a large range of absurd representations such as giraffe in flames or a tennis match between custards.
Surrealism takes its origins from the Dadaist movement and the artists adopt a radical attitude which aims to develop " the entire emancipation of the Human Being". Their values are the following : Poetry, Love and Freedom. André Breton, pope of the movement, and author of "Manifeste du surréalisme" published in 1924, excomunicates any person that desires to mix business with art. The design is also touched by this scream of the mind. When Max Ernst and Joan Miró create the set of the Russian Ballets of Serge Diaghilev, a group of opposers try to avoid the show to happen. They believe art shouldn't be mixed with business. Art should serve honnest wished, free from money considerations. Besides some artists have well understood the importance of commercial activities : for instance Man Ray also takes pictures for the fashion industry if we can call it so at the time. Therefore there's a little contradiction when Breton, himself, involves its art in the making of surrealist canvas work with the collaboration of the Marie Cuttoli gallery. He was also the private adviser of the collecter Jacques Doucet...
The lobster telephone, Salvador Dalí, (1936)
The great exhibition of the V&A of London, underlines all those paradoxes and reaveals the close collaboration between design and surrealism thanks to symbolic objects such as the lobster telephone. Salvador Dalí, Ernst, Magritte, Oppenheim, Elsa Schiaparelli... are still alive.
More info on : www.vam.ac.uk
Surreal Things : Surrealims and Design, at the Victoria&Albert Museum, in London.
From 29th of March to 22 July 2007.