The Surrealist Impulse

August 12, 2023–January 28, 2024
East Building, Level B, Photography Gallery 2 (Allen G. Thomas Jr. Gallery)

The early 20th-century movement surrealism was groundbreaking for its time. Developed in response to the travesty of World War I, the art and literary phenomenon invigorated artists and thinkers to explore dreams, the irrational and uncanny, and the poetic in their works. These principles reverberate in the 21st century, where surrealism remains a chief inspiration.

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In this exhibition artworks are brought together to illustrate a surrealist impulse that exists in contemporary art. Works like Carolyn Janssen’s large-scale ~*{G.O.E.D.}*~ depict fantastical worlds that seem plucked from the chasms of the inner psyche. The black-and-white photographs of Kristina Rogers adopt techniques of cropping and layering to blur reality and subtly serve as societal critiques. From these specific qualities and others, the artworks on view exhibit surrealist tendencies and demonstrate how many contemporary artists revel—whether discreetly or not—in the movement’s legacy.

Organized by the North Carolina Museum of Art. This exhibition is made possible, in part, by the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources; the North Carolina Museum of Art Foundation, Inc.; and the William R. Kenan Jr. Endowment for Educational Exhibitions. Research for this exhibition was made possible by Ann and Jim Goodnight/The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fund for Curatorial and Conservation Research and Travel.

Kristina Rogers, Untitled, 1993, gelatin silver print (diptych), each: 11 × 14 in., Gift of the artist’s family

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