Today we went to the Tate Modern to catch the Surrealism 2001 show. I'd been meaning to go for ages, I finally catch up with it in its very last days. Many others had left it to the last minute too and the gallery was full of them, frowning men in expensive german glasses, art students lost in a forest of pontification and gestures, hollow-eyed mothers sheilding delicate eyes from terrible dolls, mutilated eyes and multiple interpenetration. I only stumbled twice, and didn't seem to annoy anyone, even towards the end of the exhibition, where I was getting a little overstimulated.
The exhibition was very good and fascinating but, but ... rather straight and rather male for my taste (the women's pieces mainly turned up either connected to male artists (usually at the groin) or in the special room for pieces by, or about, women (a deeply conflicted room) and to look at the show you'd never think any male homosexuals even breathed the same air as a surrealist. Still, in any show that size there are bound to be buckets of astounding things you have never seen before. A Frida Kahlo self portrait! Hans Bellmer photographic studies for illustrations! Dorothea Tanning's goggle-eyed dark familiar! The fur-lined tea cup of Meret Oppenheim! Two Children threatened by a nightingale! Leonora Carrington's amazing cat-head woman goddess thing! and many, many, many beautiful books with altered or strangely overprinted interiors and bindings warped and made beautiful and strange. And a photo of a blow job by Man Ray. Entitled "Autumn". With perfect, cupid-bow lipstick.
Very tired afterwards, too much seen; old favourites like Miro and Magritte and De Chirico, new discoveries like Joseph Cornell (an American recluse who obsessively made wonderful, shrine-like cases of things) and Claude Cahun (a sharp-jawed lesbian who photographed herself, harsh and clear and dramatic as a man, a woman, a player, an artist, in masks, wigs, reflected, changed, distorted), and people who I knew but had seldom seen, like Dorothea Tanning, Leonora Carrington, Andre Masson.
There was a special edition of the exhibition catalogue with a furry cover for £75! It was very furry (I stroked the display copy for a while) but I thought it would be better to get the regular catalogue (much cheaper) and make my own furry cover for it. I was thinking black fun fur, trimmed with black ostrich feathers ....
Incidentally, on the Tate website you can take the Desire Unbound love quiz. How I rate:
Your pineal eye is perfectly closed and you radiate an irrational beautiful love that fills the world with chaos and irregular diamonds. It seems like that you are, in fact, Phantomas, the Tempter (whether you yourself realise it or not).