It has been a century since the Surrealist movement exploded across the global cultural scene. Surrealism championed the creative power of the unconscious and the value of irrational thoughts and imagery. It was a movement with enormous impact in the visual arts, film, performing arts, and literature; yet the spirit of Surrealism preceded the movement itself, and extraordinary antecedents can be found across many centuries and in cultures around the world. While the Surrealists sought out feelings of strangeness—of the improbable, uncanny, mysterious, and miraculous—the strange has always been a source of artistic inspiration, and continues to fascinate us today.
Strange features diverse works from BAMPFA’s collection that invoke strangeness and resonate with the spirit of Surrealism. The exhibition goes well beyond the strictly historical bounds of the Surrealist movement itself to explore art from many cultures and time periods. Among the themes it touches on are dreams and visions, wonders and miracles, myth and magic, and life and death. Strange includes works from Asia, Europe, and the Americas made over the past five hundred years. Among the artists represented are Diane Arbus, William Blake, Louise Bourgeois, Bruce Conner, Sylvia Fein, Francisco Goya, Nancy Grossman, Robert Gutierrez, Ynez Johnston, René Magritte, Maruyama Okyo, Ariel Parkinson, Maija Peeples-Bright, Iris Polos, Achilles Rizzoli, Cindy Sherman, Jack Smith, and Ruth Wall.