Surrealism and the Camera

Atlas Gallery, London, presents a new exhibition exploring photographers who responded to Surrealism over the past five decades. The Psychic Lens: Surrealism and the Camera features famous vintage images such as Man Ray, Andre Kertesz and Florence Henri, alongside works from rarely exhibited figures such as Franz Roh, Raoul Hausmann and Vaclav Zykmund.

Surrealism was an avant-garde movement with its roots in 1920s, influencing artists and writers to experiment with ways of exploring and releasing the subconscious imagination. Andre Breton is credited with giving the movement momentum in Paris in 1924: time saw the influence of Surrealism spread across the globe, as shown in the inclusion of Toshiko Okanoue’s collages from the 1950s.

The exhibition explores the two broad types of Surrealism, the first consisting of dream-like imagery, seen in the works of Roger Parry and Cesar Domela, and the second automatism, a process in which conscious thought is removed from the artistic expression to unleash the unconscious, as show in some of Man Ray’s work. Central ideas and themes in Surrealism, such as solarisation, still life and nudes informed the discourses of photography for many years.

Also featured in the exhibition are photographers who documented the figures associated with Surrealism, including Herbet List’s portrait of Jean Cocteua, and Steven Schapiro’s depict of Rene Magritte.

The Psychic Lens: Surrealism and the Camera is at Atlas Gallery, London, running 24 November until 28 January.

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1. Sunglasses Lake Lucerne Switzerland (1936). Herbert List / Magnum Photos.