Vienna.- The Kunsthalle Vienna is proud to present “Le Surréalisme, c’est moi!” from June 22nd through October 23rd. “Le Surréalisme, c’est moi!” continues the Kunsthalle Vienna’s series of exhibitions which presents the work of major artists from the first half of the twentieth century in a fascinating dialogue between Modernism and present day art based on philosophical, art historical and sociological questions in order to reassess the role of art and the artist in society and popular culture. “Le Surréalisme, c’est moi!” presents the works of Salvador Dalí alongside the contemporary artists Louise Bourgeois, Glenn Brown, Markus Schinwald and Francesco Vezzoli.
Eccentric, madman, or genius? Both with his oeuvre and his provocative manner, Salvador Dalí (1904–1989) abandoned the boundaries between art and life, originality and commercialism as nearly no other twentieth century artist did. He gave form to his visions of Surrealism, the aesthetic fusion of dream and reality, which manifests itself in delusions, states of fever and intoxication or delirium, in almost all media of art, but also in the way he presented himself. Translating the principles of his so called paranoiac critical method and being recognized all over the world with such motifs as the melting clock, the burning giraffe, or endlessly vast landscapes steeped in cool sunshine, Dalí not only ranks among the most famous painters. He was also one of the first artists who devoted himself to design, cinema, and the sphere of mass media and pursued marketing strategies that have come to be primarily associated with the name of Andy Warhol. Dalí countered the method preferred by the Surrealists around André Breton, who strove to evoke images of the unconscious through a passive state of the ego by means of the écriture automatique, with an ostentatious individualism and reacted polemically to the group’s accusations denouncing him as a fascist and his expulsion: “I am not a Surrealist. I am Surrealism. Surrealism is not a party or a label; it is a state of mind, unique, to each his own, that can be affected by no party line, taboo, or morality. It is the total freedom to be and the right to absolute dreaming.”
Surrealism was regarded as a way of living by the multimedia artist, who engaged himself in almost every field of cultural production, designed stage sets, perfume bottles and jewelry, worked with Luis Buñuel, Alfred Hitchcock and Walt Disney, shot commercials, appeared in TV shows, and made his paintings available as cover motifs to Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and Country House. Dalí made scores of different roles his own and cultivated his appearance which became a trademark and, finally, a caricature. On the occasion of the artist’s one hundredth birthday, Peter Bürger wrote: “Dalí, who died in 1989, has not found a place in twentieth century art yet.” The Kunsthalle Wien’s exhibition reaccentuates Dalí’s controversially perceived production in the mirror of contemporary art and highlights the affinities revealing manifold points of contact with today’s art scene: about seventy selected works by Salvador Dalí are confronted with the internationally established positions of Louise Bourgeois, Glenn Brown, Markus Schinwald, and Francesco Vezzoli. The visitor follows the exhibition’s course through a mise en scène of atmospheric rooms in which four exemplary artistic positions enter into a dialogue with Dalí for a discussion of current tendencies and variants of Surrealist aesthetics.
The work developed by Markus Schinwald specifically for the exhibition deals with perspective and weightlessness. His installation of a showcase filled with water reminds us of Dalí’s popularly surreal space of experience at the World’s Fair in New York in 1939 for which the artist designed a swimming pool with live mermaids. Presented as objects in a kind of cabinet of curiosities, the sculptures and drawings by Louise Bourgeois visualize the psychoanalytic approach to art, the unconscious coming to light in dreams. Glenn Brown thematizes the history of art and the tradition of painting: technically brilliant paintings unfolding illusionist color surfaces center on the concepts of reception and appropriation, post modernism and mannerism. Francesco Vezzoli’s work takes its inspiration from the phenomenon of renown and relies on medially constructed projection surfaces for fantasies and desires. It is the interest in the visualization of irrational knowledge and the fascination for a world between dream and reality which the selected artists share with Dalí.
The Kunsthalle Wien is the exhibition institution of the City of Vienna for international contemporary art. It established itself as one of the most vital facilities for contemporary art in Vienna at two locations in the centre of the city (Karlsplatz and the MuseumsQuartier). In the interest of an expanded understanding of art, the Kunsthalle Wien emphasizes cross-genre, cross-border trends in the arts. Program highlights range from photography, video, film, and installations to new media. Large, subject-specific exhibitions present developments and correlations from Modernism to the present-day art world. Other program elements are dedicated to retrospectives of important contemporary artists and significant contributions in Austrian art after 1945. The Kunsthalle Wien considers itself a workshop, a lab, a forum for contemporary aesthetic and social positions and as a hot zone of communicative transfer. And as a bridge between classical modernity and the visions of the future that redefine the strategies, venues, and materials of present-day art. The idea of temporariness was an integral part of the Kunsthalle history from the very beginning. Designed by architect Adolf Krischanitz as a temporary building shaped like a cargo container, the Kunsthalle Wien on Karlsplatz was opened in 1992. Fiercely controversial in its beginnings, the yellow container was not only an element that changed the cityscape of downtown Vienna, but also brought a lasting new impulse to the local art and gallery scene.
Since 1992, more than two million visitors have seen exhibitions at the Kunsthalle Wien. 160 exhibitions presented almost 10,000 works by more than 2,000 different artists, which makes the Kunsthalle Wien one of the best-frequented, but also on e of the most active exhibition venues for contemporary art in Europe. In 2002, the Italian arts magazine ARTE ranked the Kunsthalle Wien among the six best modern art institutions in Europe (together with Tate Modern, London, the Kiasma, Helsinki, the Centre Pompidou, Paris and the Bilbao Guggenheim). The New York Times called the Kunsthalle simply an ‘art mecca’ (NY Times, March 11, 2001). The new Kunsthalle Wien building located in the in the Museum Quarter opened in 2001. In order to create public awareness of the Museum Quarter as the new home of the Kunsthalle Wien, a number of exhibitions have already been shown in the provisional Kunsthalle premises in the Museum Quarter ever since December 1995. Visit the gallery’s website at … http://www.kunsthallewien.at