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Abstract art Swiss surrealism: where the imaginary becomes real

Is there such a thing as Swiss Surrealism? The first ever major exhibition on the theme at the Aargauer Kunsthaus – which features such greats as Oppenheim, Giacometti and Klee – suggests some answers.

Surrealism was characterised “more by an artistic attitude of mind than by a stylistic programme”, according to the Aargauer Kunsthaus. “In a time of political tensions, the Surrealist artists rejected repression and control, and directly expressed their fantasies, visions and fears,” it says in its introduction to the exhibition,external link which will open on September 1.

Various Swiss artists helped to shape international Surrealism, whether as predecessors, such as Paul Klee, or as members of the movement that started in Paris in the 1920s including Alberto Giacometti and Meret Oppenheim.

The exhibition also considers how Surrealism did not go down well in the culturally-conservative climate of Switzerland in the 1930s, as well as the movement’s influence on later art.

A special focus is given to female Swiss artists, even if not all of them would have necessarily identified as Surrealists. “Their presence in the exhibition acknowledges the fact that women were very much a part of the history of Swiss 20th-century art,” according to the Aargauer Kunsthaus.

Surrealism Switzerland runs until January 2, 2019 and features works by some 60 artists.

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