Te Papa’s Surrealist Art exhibition postponed to 2021

Te Papa and Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam have agreed to postpone Surrealist Art until June 2021, as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Originally due to open this December, the exhibition is being postponed until 2021. It will open in early June 2021 and run through to October 2021.

Surrealist Art: Masterpieces from Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen | He Toi Pohewa: He Toi Marupō o Muhiama o Boijmans Van Beuningen features 180 major works by artists such as Salvador Dalí, Max Ernst, Leonora Carrington, René Magritte, and Marcel Duchamp.

In place of the Dali exhibition this summer, Te Papa will run a series of family-friendly pop up events and activities, giving the museum a festival feel.

Head of Art Charlotte Davy said the museum was thrilled the surrealists exhibition could go ahead, despite the impacts of Covid-19.

“Te Papa is the exclusive Australasian venue for this world-class exhibition,” Ms Davy said.

“We are delighted to be able to bring these incredible works of art to Wellington for a winter art season like no other.”

“We are so grateful to the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen for working with us to ensure this exhibition can make it half way around the world in these challenging times.”

“New Zealand is one of the few countries in the world where people can gather together for a once-in-a-lifetime experience like this.”

“We think New Zealand audiences are going to grab the opportunity to see the best of the world’s surrealist art, right here in their backyard,” Ms Davy said.

The fascinating exhibition includes all of the major Surrealist artists, including a large group of works by Salvador Dalí. Dalí’s works include exquisitely fine paintings and printmaking, playful sculptures and design, and unsettling film. His famous Mae West Lips Sofa is on one of the iconic works on show.

Ms Davy says that the Surrealists sought to open a different kind of reality in their work, one that was shaped by the marvellous, the dreamlike and the uncanny.

“Visitors will be struck by the power of Surrealist ideas which are still incredibly relevant today – both politically and as an influence on contemporary artists.”


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Captions and credits:

Art works

Salvador Dalí, Couple with their heads in the clouds, oil on panel, 1936. Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam. Purchase with the support of: the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen Foundation, the Rembrandt Association, the Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds, the Erasmusstichting and Stichting Bevordering van Volkskracht. Photo: Studio Tromp. © Salvador Dalí, Fundació Gala-Salvador Dalí/VEGAP. Copyright Agency, 2020.

Salvador Dalí, Mae West Lips Sofa, wood, woollen flannel, cotton and brass rivets, 1938. Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam (purchase with the support of the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen Foundation and the Rembrandt Association). Photo: Jannes Linders. © Salvador Dalí, Fundació Gala-Salvador Dalí/VEGAP. Copyright Agency, 2020.

René Magritte, The glass house, gouache on paper, 1939. Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam. Photo: Studio Tromp. © René Magritte/ADAGP. Copyright Agency, 2020.

Salvador Dalí, Venus de Milo with drawers, bronze, paint and fur, 1936 (1964). Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam. Photo Jannes Linders. © Salvador Dalí, Fundació Gala-Salvador Dalí/VEGAP. Copyright Agency, 2020.

Salvador Dalí

Portrait of Salvador Dalí, taken in Hôtel Meurice, Paris, 1972. Photo by Allan Warren. CC BY-SA 3.0(link is external)

Salvador Dalí with his pet ocelot, Babou, and cane, 1965. Photo by Roger Higgins, World-Telegram staff photographer. Library of Congress (New York World-Telegram & Sun Collection)

Salvador Dalí, 29 November 1939. Photo by Carl Van Vechten. Library of Congress (LOT 12735, no. 275, LC-USZ62-116608)

Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen and Sjarel Ex

Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen. Photo by Aad Hoogendoorn

Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen Director Sjarel Ex. Photo by Fred Ernst

Te Papa

Charlotte Davy, 2016. Photograph by Michael Hall. Te Papa (91133)

Notes to editors


Launched by manifesto in Paris in 1924, Surrealism quickly took the world by storm. It spread across all fields of artistic production, and the influence of Surrealist ideas was felt around the globe. Artists, writers, designers, and filmmakers adopted radical new techniques, subjects, materials, and styles, in their attempt to create a new kind of reality grounded in dreams, the irrational, and the subconscious. Through their work, Surrealist artists aimed to shock, disrupt, and delight. Their ideas have shaped much of the art of the 20th and early 21st centuries.

Salvador Dalí

Salvador Dalí was born in the Spanish city of Figueres in 1904. After training as a painter in Madrid, he moved to Paris in 1929 where he began working with other Surrealist artists. Dalí produced many of his best-known works in Paris in the 1930s. This included playful, subversive sculptures and furniture design, as well as a staggeringly accomplished series of paintings and prints. Dalí’s unsettling, hallucinatory canvases were painted using a method that he called ‘paranoic-critical’, in which the viewer can read several images into a single work. Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen have a particularly strong collection of Salvador Dalí’s work, much of which is included in the exhibition.

Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen

Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen is an eclectic and distinctive museum that has stood in the heart of Rotterdam for the past 170 years. The museum takes its name from two important collectors, Frans Boijmans and Daniël George van Beuningen, who enriched the collection with many masterpieces.

The museum has one of the world’s largest collections of Surrealist art, comprising more than 125 paintings and sculptures plus a collection of rare books and publications, which attracts art lovers from all over the world. Several iconic works from this collection were originally owned by the excentric British collector Edward James, who for several years was a patron of Dalí as well as Magritte. He is portrayed in the famous painting La reproduction interdite, which will be on show in Dalí and the Surrealists.

Bosch, Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Dalí, and Dutch design: a visit to Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen is a journey through the history of art. Dutch and foreign masterpieces provide a comprehensive survey of art from the early Middle Ages to the present day.

Masterpieces by, among many others, Monet, Mondrian and Magritte show the development of Impressionism and Modernism.

The museum has one of the world’s largest collections of Surrealist art and an excellent collection of British and American Pop art with works by David Hockney, Andy Warhol, and Claes Oldenburg. In addition the museum is the place for decorative arts and design: from medieval ceramics and Renaissance glass to furniture by Gerrit Rietveld and contemporary Dutch design.

Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen is modernising. Last year, the museum began a much-needed, large-scale renovation, which is expected to take seven years. At this moment the museum is building a high-profile depot: in 2021 a new home for the museum collection, that now contains 151,000 pieces, will be opened next door to the main museum. The building, designed by the Dutch architecture firm MVRDV, is the first art depot that will be entirely open to the public – a world first.

Te Papa

The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa was established in 1998 as an innovative bicultural museum. It is known as Te Papa. At its heart is the partnership between the indigenous Māori people and Pākeha, or non-Māori New Zealanders. Te Papa is regularly rated among the world’s best museums, and in a country with a population of four million, receives 1.5 million visitors each year.

As well as the country’s national museum, Te Papa also holds New Zealand’s national art collection, which is shown in its gallery Toi Art. Te Papa multi-disciplinary museum combining science, art and history, and has special strengths in Māori and Pacific taonga (treasures).