Lunchtime Talk: Surrealism, Clairvoyance and the "Automatic Message"

When
Tuesday 7 June 2022 1:00pm - 1:45pm
Price
Free, booking recommended
How to book
Please book via Eventbrite
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Where
Millennium Gallery
Theme
Talks and tours
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Grace Pailthorpe, The Torment of Tantalus, 1938 Private collection. Courtesy Galerie 1900-2000, Paris

Find out how the work of surrealist artists has at times overlapped with – and at other times diverged from – theories of paranormal communication.

Since its origins, the Surrealist Movement has dabbled in ideas of clairvoyance, second sight, and séance. In his Surrealist Manifesto of 1924, André Breton described his experience of a phrase appearing in his head one night as he was falling asleep, as though ‘knocking at the window’ of his mind. This experience led him to develop the surrealist theory of ‘automatism’, proposing that inscribing or tracing the patterns of this unconscious (‘automatic’) thought in writing or in drawing would challenge established notions of reality.

While directly inspired by the psychoanalytical writings of Sigmund Freud, the surrealists also compared their experiments in capturing the activities of the unconscious mind to the habits of mediums, clairvoyants and seers. These similarities were suggested most plainly in Breton’s 1933 essay ‘The Automatic Message’, which was illustrated on its first page by a banner image featuring crystal balls. Hear more about the links between surrealism and spiritualism in this lunchtime talk with Dr William Atkin.

Dr Will Atkin is a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow in Art History at the University of Nottingham, where he researches and teaches 19th- and 20th-century European Art History. He completed his BA, MA and PhD at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London. He is the author of the Historical Dictionary of Surrealism (2021) and has published on various topics relating to the history of the Surrealist Movement, including in the catalogue to 2022 exhibition Surrealism and Magic: Enchanted Modernity, being shown at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection and Museum Barberini.

This talk is part of the programme of events complementing the exhibition Not Without My Ghosts: The Artist as Medium, at the Millennium Gallery until Sunday 26 June 2022.

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When
Tuesday 7 June 2022 1:00pm - 1:45pm
Price
Free, booking recommended
How to book
Please book via Eventbrite
Book now
Where
Millennium Gallery
Theme
Talks and tours
Join & Support Us | Find out more about how you can get involved