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Objects of Desire. Surrealism and Design 1924 – Today

28 Settembre 2019 - 19 Gennaio 2020

Objects of Desire

On 28 September 2019 until 19 January 2020 the Vitra Design Museum will open a major exhibition that offers a comprehensive look at the dialogue between Surrealism and design. For the first time, it will unveil the extent to which Surrealism has influenced design of the past 100 years – from furniture and interiors to graphic design, fashion, and photography. The exhibition will include works by Gae Aulenti, Björk, Achille Castiglioni, Giorgio de Chirico, Le Corbusier, Salvador Dalí, Dunne & Raby, Marcel Duchamp, Max Ernst, Ray Eames, Front, Frederick Kiesler, Shiro Kuramata, René Magritte, Carlo Mollino, Isamu Noguchi, Meret Oppenheim, Man Ray, Iris van Herpen, and many others.

Surrealism was founded by André Breton with the first Surrealist manifesto of 1924 and quickly became an international movement that included writers, artists, and filmmakers. The subconscious, dreams, obsessions, chance, and the irrational were just a few of the sources the Surrealists used to create a new artistic reality. In the 1930s Surrealism began to influence design as well, and by the 1940s, it had become a trend that shaped fashion, furniture, and photography, making it onto the covers of »Harper’s Bazaar« and »Vogue«. To this day Surrealism is providing designers with manifold inspirations, whether motifs drawn from its fantastic imagery, its subversive approach, or its interest in the human psyche.

The exhibition »Objects of Desire« juxtaposes Surrealist artworks and design objects to reveal fascinating parallels and cross-references. Among the high-profile loans from the field of fine art are the paintings »The Red Model« (1947 or 1948) by René Magritte, Salvador Dalí’s »Giant Flying Mocha Cup with an Inexplicable Five Metre Appendage« (1944/45), and »Forest, Birds and Sun« (1927) by Max Ernst as well as such Readymades as Marcel Duchamp’s »Bottle Dryer« (1914) or »Gift« (1921) by Man Ray. The representatives of design range from works of the 1930s – such as Meret Oppenheim’s table »Traccia« (1939) – to the contemporary, including fashion designs by Iris van Herpen, objects by Front, Konstantin Grcic, or Odd Matter as well as critical design projects that question new technologies or gender roles in subversive ways. These works demonstrate that design is not just about function and technology but also about objects’ hidden realities, about our inherently secret dreams, obsessions, and myths – that is, the sur-real.

Opening hours: daily 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Hashtag: #VDMSurrealism

Aldo Tura, La pipa, c. 1960
© Vitra Design Museum, photo: Andreas Sütterlin


28 Settembre 2019
19 Gennaio 2020
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Vitra Design Museum
Charles-Eames-Str. 2
Weil am Rhein, 79576 Germania
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