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#43 "Surrealism and Magic: Enchanted Modernity" at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice -

Updated: May 9, 2022

Conversation with Gražina Subelytė

Saturday, March 26th 2022


Like no other 20th century movement, Surrealism was keenly inspired by tropes of magic, myth, and the occult, and there are many works of Surrealism in the collection of Peggy Guggenheim in Venice. The Surrealists, in their engagement with the irrational and the unconscious, looked to magic as a poetic and deeply philosophical discourse, related to both arcane knowledge and individual self-empowerment. In many of their works, they drew on traditional occult symbolism, cultivating the image of the artist as an alchemist, magician, and visionary. Dr. Subelytė’s exhibition Surrealism and Magic: Enchanted Modernity explores the many ways in which magic and the occult informed the development of Surrealism, tracing its artistic trajectory from the “metaphysical painting” of Giorgio de Chirico through the visions of Max Ernst and Kurt Seligmann, among others, to the late work of Leonora Carrington and Remedios Varo.

Gražina Subelytė is Associate Curator at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, where she has curated the exhibitions Rita Kernn-Larsen: Surrealist Paintings (2017), and 1948: The Biennale of Peggy Guggenheim (2018), and co-curated From Gesture to Form: Postwar European and American Art from the Schulhof Collection (2019), and Peggy Guggenheim: The Last Dogaressa (2019–20). She is the curator of Surrealism and Magic: Enchanted Modernity, scheduled to open at the Guggenheim on April 9, 2022 till September 26, 2022. She wrote the catalogue Hannelore B. and Rudolph B. Schulhof Collection (2016) as well as numerous essays and articles on modern art, in particular on Surrealism and its relation to magic and the occult.

Image: Victor Brauner, The Surrealist (Le Surréaliste), January 1947, Oil on canvas, 60 x 45 cm

Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice (Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York)

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