“Dreamers Awake” teases out chains of influence across the century, and on show alongside Surrealism’s original cast members are giants from contemporary art, including
“Surrealism was a hugely influential avant-garde in the way it permeated visual culture from the very beginning,” says Greeves. “And Surrealism never disappeared, as some have claimed.”
The show makes connections between artists from different decades, such as
. Cahun is now celebrated as an early transgender artist, and the slender self-portraits from the 1920s show the artist in various guises—kneeling with a mask or lotus-legged as Buddha. The resonance of Cahun’s portraits can be seen in the photography of Callis. Untitled (Woman with Black Line)
(1976) shows a neat stripe drawn up the spine of a fragile female form, right up into the hairline—like a seam—making the body into a kind of costume. Cahun’s influence can also be discerned in
’s famous terracotta sculptures of phallic vaginas, Five Androgynous and Vaginal Sculptures
(1960–61), which, like Cahun’s portraits, attempt to break down gender binaries.
Various generations of artists are also linked by what Breton conceived as the Surrealist object—a thing stripped of its ordinary meaning to expose a psychological truth. That Surrealism’s stripped object so often took the form of a naked woman was not lost on later sculptors, who sought to ironize and undermine Breton’s concepts, particularly after his death in 1966.
made casts of her own lips and breasts to create tinted polyester objects that are equal parts
and Surrealist. The protagonist of her Lampe-Bouche
(1966) is a pair of glowing yellow lips: fragile, erotic, and camp, all at the same time. In a similar vein, Los Angeles-based sculptor
(2017) is a breast carved from alabaster that almost shivers on its glass plinth. Nearby, Miss her (peach)
(2017), made of veined, apricot calcite, is an object that sits somewhere between an ass and a split peach, and uses Surrealism as a vehicle for irony.