Centraal Museum – Moesman en de Surrealisten

I’m thrilled to announce that from October 2018, I am working as a curator/project manager at Centraal Museum in Utrecht. Together with curator Marja Bosma, I will be working on an exhibition of the Dutch Surrealist artist Joop Moesman. The exhibition, entitled Moesman and the Surrealists – Sex and the Sexes (working title) is planned to open on February 14, 2020.

18452Joop Moesman, Ontmoeting, 1932

From 14 February until 24 May, 2020, the Centraal Museum will present a major exhibition, entitled Moesman and the Surrealists – Sex and the Sexes. In this exhibition, the work of the only officially recognised Dutch Surrealist, Johannes Hendrikus Moesman (1909-1988), will be presented for the first time in the context of his international male and female contemporaries. In addition, works by contemporary artists will provide a timely perspective on the themes of the exhibition.

Moesman and the Surrealists – Sex and the Sexes aims to give visitors insight into Moesman’s oeuvre in relation to the times in which he lived, and the changed times in which we live today. The starting point of the exhibition is Moesman’s obsession with women and sex. 

For the Surrealists, sexual urges, like dreams, were the key to freeing the subconscious. Their radically innovative and erotic visual language set them against the stifling conformism and rationalism of their time. At the same time, sexual and gender roles were still relatively fixed; the male gaze dominated and women were seen primarily as muse or object of lust. However, while male surrealists were glorifying the idea of women in fetishised artworks, female surrealists were exploring their own subjective worlds. An important section of the exhibition will thus be dedicated to this other, female perspective. In addition, the exhibition will explicitly investigate the male perspective: What do the works of Moesman and the international Surrealists actually say about constructions of masculinity? Were Surrealist experiments with the female body merely a form of misogyny – as feminist critiques have long argued? Or were they also a mirror for the anxieties and ambivalent ideas surrounding their own masculinity? 

The exhibition begins with an introduction to Moesman’s sources of inspiration: 19th-century erotic art; the Surrealist journals that introduced him to the movement; and the works of admired Surrealists such as Dalí, Ernst, and Magritte and their shared fascination with women, fetishes, and ‘primitive’ art objects. The exhibition then zooms in on the Recherches sur la Sexualité; Surrealists’ fascination with Marquis de Sade and sadomasochism; and the explicitly erotic works of Hans Bellmer, Jacques-André Boiffard, Pierre Molinier and Man Ray. In the remainder of the exhibition, the work of female artists such as Lee Miller, Leonor Fini and Dorothea Tanning will confront that of Moesman. Finally, the exhibition will explore the evolution of artistic play with sex and gender through works by Toyen, Claude Cahun and Marcel Duchamp/Rrose Selavy as well as by contemporary artists.

A Dutch/English-language catalogue with contributions from various international authors will be published alongside the exhibition.

Curators: Marja Bosma and Nina Folkersma
Research: Maia Kenney


Four Women Asleep
Lee Miller, Ady Fidelin, Nusch Éluard and Leonora Carrington, 1937 (photo by Roland Penrose)