This is Surrealism!  Boijmans Masterpieces at The Cobra Museum

1st June – 27th September.

Surreal masterpieces in a surreal time.

In your own private space forty masterpieces from Boijmans’ surrealism collection can be visited for four months in the Cobra Museum in Amstelveen before going on a world tour. An exceptional collaboration that, in this strange reality, results in a memorable meeting with Dalí, Magritte, Man Ray and Eileen Agar.

The exhibition represents a far-reaching collaboration with Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen that lends its artworks at home and abroad during its own renovation closure. This is a surrealism collection that is among the best in the world and is unique in the Netherlands. Because of the corona virus, the top forty of this collection is hung with as much space as possible. A nice number for the story about surrealism. And a very pleasant distraction in the form of fiction for fantasy, at a time when non-fiction is so overwhelming. The exhibition in Amstelveen can be seen until 27th September and will then go on a world tour in adapted form, starting in the Te Papa Tongarewa museum in New Zealand. For surrealism fans who don’t want to travel to the other side of the world, this is the last chance to see the works.

Interim director Stefan van Raay of the Cobra Museum: “We are proud that the Cobra Museum in Amstelveen will be able to show various world-renowned surrealism masterpieces from the Boijmans collection over the next four months. A wonderful example of necessary and collegial cooperation between Dutch museums in this challenging period. ”

Director of Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Sjarel Ex: “We are delighted that, despite the corona pandemic, we have managed with great enthusiasm and effort to put together a special exhibition where visitors to the Cobra Museum can get acquainted with our high-quality surrealism collection from Rotterdam and the rest of the world.”

Selection of exemplary artworks 

After the closure of Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen almost a year ago due to extensive renovation and renewal, the doors of the Cobra Museum also closed last March due to Covid-19. The preparations for This is Surrealism! had been in full swing for months. Despite the new measures and the absence of an international audience in the Amsterdam region, hands are again joined to This is Surrealism! can still be realized for the Dutch public, in adapted form. Forty well-known and exemplary works of art have been selected that together answer the question: what is surrealism? The audience gets to see “the currants from the surrealist porridge” in Amstelveen. 

Nine themes

Qu’est-ce que le surréalisme? This is Surrealism! In 1934, André Breton, leader of the Paris surrealists, published his earlier lecture entitled Qu’est-ce que le surréalisme? (What is Surrealism?). A historical publication, with a famous illustration by René Magritte on the cover shown in this exhibition. This is Surrealism! addresses the central question within nine themes, with key works by Salvador Dali, René Magritte, André Breton, Man Ray, Eileen Agar and Max Ernst, among others. Very recent acquisitions are also shown for the first time, such as a copy of André Breton’s first surreal manifesto from 1924, The painting Again, the Gemini are in the Orchard by Leonora Carrington from 1947 and collages by Joseph Cornell from the 1930s on the last edition of TEFAF Maastricht.

Surrealism and Cobra 

Concurrent with the exhibition This is Surrealism! the presentation Surrealism and Cobra can be seen on the ground floor of the Cobra Museum. The Cobra movement emerged directly from Surrealism because a number of artists, including Appel, Jorn and Constant, left in disappointment in 1948 a Surrealist manifestation and decided that a new and less politically driven art movement should be created: Cobra. On the basis of works from the collection of the Cobra Museum, supplemented with some loans, the influence and similarities, but also the contradictions and differences between Surrealism and the Cobra movement are shown. 

Museum visit in Corona time 

An audio tour has been made by contemporary surrealist Aynouk Tan. Guides from the Cobra Museum and from Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen are continuously available to provide explanations for the artworks. Walking routes are indicated for safety via a sophisticated dot pattern. Entrance tickets must be purchased online in advance via the Cobra Museum website for an designated time slot.