Centraal Museum: De tranen van Eros. Moesman, surrealisme en de seksen

I’m thrilled to announce that from October 2018, I am working at Centraal Museum in Utrecht as the curator and project leader of the exhibition The Tears of Eros: Moesman, Surrealism and the Sexes
Opening: 14 February 2020 / Closing date: 24 May 2020

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From 14 February until 24 May, 2020, the Centraal Museum presents a major exhibition, entitled The Tears of Eros: Moesman, Surrealism and the Sexes. In this exhibition, the work of the only officially recognised Dutch Surrealist, Johannes Hendrikus Moesman (1909-1988), is presented in the context of his international male and female contemporaries. In addition, works by contemporary artists provide a timely perspective on the themes of the exhibition. 

The Tears of Eros: Moesman, Surrealism 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: the Surrealist journals that introduced Moesman to the movement; the works of admired Surrealists such as Dalí, Ernst, and Magritte and their shared fascination with women, fetishes, and sex – as also portrayed by a film by contemporary artist Gerard Byrne about the surrealist ‘Recherches sur la sexualité’. In the remainder of the exhibition, we present works by women artists such as Leonora Carrington, Leonor Fini, Dorothea Tanning and Unica Zürn. We explore the artistic play with sex and gender of artists such as Marcel Duchamp/Rrose Selavy, Claude Cahun, Toyen and Pierre Molinier and contemporary artists such as Sarah Lucas and Gillian Wearing. Finally, we zoom in on the Surrealists’ fascination with De Sade and sadomasochism, with explicitly erotic works by Hans Bellmer, William B. Seabrook, Clovis Trouille and Man Ray.

List of artists:
Hans Bellmer
Jacques-André Boiffard
Gerard Byrne
Claude Cahun
Salvador Dalí
Marcel Duchamp
Max Ernst
Leonor Fini
Sanam Khatibi
Paul Kooiker
Sarah Lucas
René Magritte
Roberto Matta
Lee Miller
Emiel van Moerkerken
Joop Moesman
Pierre Molinier
Gerrit van ’t Net
Man Ray
Kay Sage
Viviane Sassen
William B. Seabrook
Dorothea Tanning
Clovis Trouille
Willem Wagenaar
Unica Zürn
and others

Exhibition design:
Afaina de Jong / AFARAI

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