The Art Angle Podcast: How the Met’s Astonishing Surrealism Show Rewrites Global Art History

This week, Ben Davis returns to discuss the revelatory exhibition.

Mayo, Coups de bâtons (Baton Blows) (1937). Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf © 2021 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.

Welcome to the Art Angle, a podcast from Artnet News that delves into the places where the art world meets the real world, bringing each week’s biggest story down to earth. Join us every week for an in-depth look at what matters most in museums, the art market, and much more with input from our own writers and editors as well as artists, curators, and other top experts in the field.


If, perhaps, someone in a trench coat who was smoking a pipe and had a gigantic eyeball for a head were to approach you on the street on a particularly sunny night and ask you what surrealism was, you’d probably answer by throwing out a few names—Salvator Dalí, René Magritte, Man Ray, Frida Kahlo—and you wouldn’t be wrong.

But what if that strange interlocutor were to tell you that everything you know about surrealism is in fact, just the tip of a very large iceberg? And that this lastingly popular movement stretched in fact, far beyond Paris, far beyond Europe, to every corner of the globe, and to countless fascinating artists who you’ve never heard of before? Well that, in a sense, is exactly what an extraordinary and frankly revelatory exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art is doing right now.

Titled “Surrealism Beyond Borders,” the exhibition, organized by Met curator Stephanie D’Alessandro together with Tate Modern curator Matthew Gale and closing at the end of this month makes it plain that the riveting story of surrealism has hardly begun to be told, and it’s lessons are shockingly relevant to a lot of the biggest debates of our present day. To discuss what we should know about the show and what it changes about the history of art, chief critic Ben Davis joins the podcast to discuss this week.


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