Surreal Things: Surrealism and Design

Artvehicle 14/Recommended

29th March 2007 — 22nd July 2007

During the 1930s Surrealism infiltrated theatre, design, fashion and advertising. The Surrealists’ subversion of commodifiable objects was reappropriated for commerce, sometimes by the artists themselves, many of whom worked as designers. Aragon and Breton protested at Ernst, Masson and Miró designing for the Ballet Russes: ‘It is inadmissible that ideas should be at the behest of money. Not a year goes by but someone who seemed unshakeable submits to the forces that until then he had opposed.’ The exhibition contains a great selection of Surrealist paintings and objects, alongside fashion and furniture designed or inspired by the Surrealists. Some of the artists include, Dali, Giacometti, Magritte, Man Ray, Meret Oppenheim, Ernst, Miro and Tanguy. Elsa Shiaparelli’s knew how to commodify Surrealism and who to collaborate with to produce desirable luxury products. She got Dali to design dresses, hats and perfume for her. Dali also collaborated with wealthy Englishman Edward James to create his iconic Lobster Telephone and Lips Sofa. Dali was kicked out of the Surrealists in 1939 for not being radical enough and was nicknamed Avida Dollars by Breton. It feels slightly shocking to find Miró designing fabric, Giacometti making jewellery and Man Ray shooting adverts. But the 1930s were uncertain times and Art History likes to forget that artists must live.


Victoria & Albert Museum
Cromwell Road
London SW7 2RL

Daily, 10am-5.45
Late opening on Friday until 10pm