Item No: #362573 International Surrealist Exhibition. Max Ernst.
International Surrealist Exhibition
International Surrealist Exhibition

First International Surrealist Show Poster

International Surrealist Exhibition

Notes: The poster for the first ever international Surrealist exhibition, held in London for less than a month, from June 12 to July 4, 1936. The event featured some 400 works from artists of fourteen countries. It was organized by Roland Penrose with the help of the sculptor Henry Moore and the painter Paul Nash, among others.

The poster, a two-color lithograph printed in pink and black, measures 19-3/4 by 19-15/16 inches.

While most of the exhibited works were paintings, the event is best-known for its performances, including Sheila Legge posing in Trafalgar Square as the "Phantom of Surrealism" wearing a white dress and a mask made of flowers that completely obscured her face. She later wandered the galleries holding either a pork chop or a prosthetic limb. Salvador Dalí gave a lecture with two dogs, a pool cue, and a sword while wearing a deep-sea diving helmet. He nearly suffocated and was rescued by an audience member.

The event generated lots of publicity, including an editorial in the Manchester Evening News denouncing "meaninglessness for the sake of meaninglessness." More than 20,000 people attended, and the official group of British Surrealists formed alongside the show. André Breton said the Burlington Galleries show was "the highest point in the graph of the influence of our movement" (quoted in Prague, Capital of the Twentieth Century: A Surrealist History by Derek Sayer, p. 17).

The poster, an offset lithograph printed in pink and black from a design by Max Ernst, is notably scarce. Pierre Bergé auctioned a copy with infill restoration in 2021 for the equivalent of $11,500. This example comes from the collection of the French bibliophile Paul Destribats. Reproduced in Michael Remy's Surrealism in Britain (plate 24).

Edition + Condition: The poster was previously matted and it faded somewhat, leaving the edges somewhat darker than the main poster. The poster has old folds and some color touch-up; it is laid down on paper.

Publication: London: The Euston Press, 1936.

Item No: #362573

Price: $12,500

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