Works by Dalí, Magritte, Man Ray and other Surrealists from Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen’s collection are on show in South Korea. They travelled to Seoul from Rotterdam by way of Wellington in New Zealand, and their world tour will likely take them to Mexico City in the spring of 2022.
A Surreal Shock: Masterpieces from Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen runs at the Seoul Arts Center (SAC) in Seoul, South Korea, from 27 November 2021 to 6 March 2022. One hundred and eighty works of art from Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen’s collection showcase the main motivations and principles of artists who were drawn to Surrealism at various times in their lives. The touring exhibition will also raise the profile of the museum and of Rotterdam internationally. Before it arrived in South Korea, the exhibition ran in Wellington, New Zealand, from 12 June to 31 October 2021, and after its time in Seoul it will in all probability travel on to Mexico City.
A Surreal Shock: Masterpieces from Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen shows how Surrealism began in Paris as a literary movement shortly after the First World War, how within fifteen years it had spread across art forms and continents, and how it entered a new phase as a consequence of the Second World War. Despite the war and the death of André Breton, its driving force, Surrealism remained alive as an attitude that questions the significance of Western rationalism and persists to this day.
Surrealist art encompasses a great diversity of style, technique and use of materials. This diversity reflects a search for a new, uncontrolled form of beauty. The Surrealists found beauty in their dreams, in chance and in the subconscious. They wanted to create a poetic shock that would continually renew art and life with found objects, games and techniques in which reason played no part.
Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen’s Surrealism collection was started in the nineteen-sixties and contains masterpieces by Salvador Dalí, Max Ernst and René Magritte. Over the last ten years the museum has purchased highlights from the oeuvres of Unica Zürn, Leonora Carrington and Eileen Agar. These acquisitions are now being shown to an international public for the first time.
The collection from Rotterdam is providing the South Korean public, who have a profound interest in the mythical power of the image, with their first retrospective exhibition of Surrealism. The Seoul Arts Center attracts two million visitors every year; as well as a museum of fine art it is also an opera house, music theatre and a museum of design and calligraphy. It regularly stages exhibitions of works by internationally known artists and classical modern art movements.
Touring collection exhibitions like this raise the profile of the museum and of Rotterdam internationally. The doors of the renovated and refurbished museum building in Rotterdam will open in 2026. Until that time the collection can be seen in other museums in the Netherlands and abroad, and in schools in the Rotterdam region. In the spring of 2021, all the more than 151,000 works of art will be housed in the iconic Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen designed by MVRDV. It will be the first publicly accessible art depot in the world.