Stellar Orbits: Lovers and Intellectuals Among Surrealists and Their Peers

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Portrait of Dorothea, 1960 Oil On Canvas 64 X 51 Inches © Courtesy of The Dorothea Tanning Collection and Archive
Stellar Orbits: Lovers and Intellectuals Among Surrealists and Their Peers

161 Jessie Street
San Francisco, CA 94105
September 6th, 2012 - October 27th, 2012
Opening: September 6th, 2012 5:00 PM - 8:00 PM

(415) 346-7812
Tue-Sat 11-6


Stellar Orbits adopts the perspective of artists in relation to one another, looking specifically at the creative attractions and frictions that generated so much potent art from the birth of Surrealism in 1924 through to the fading of its distinctive embers in the 1960’s and beyond. How were the sexual relationships, notoriously permissive, a catalyst for the generation of erotic imagery? How were the Surrealist games and thought experiments successful in teasing out taboo subconscious imagery? How did the various orthodoxies, priorities and worldview espoused by Andre Breton fuel intellectual debate, leading to new modes of artistic expression?

The exhibition highlights these relationships in the layout of the works of art and ephemera themselves, throughout Frey Norris’ main galleries, pairing for instance works new to the gallery by Max Ernst and Dorothea Tanning and by Gordon Onslow Ford and Wolfgang Paalen. Max Ernst, almost as famous for his charm with women as his ideas on art, served happily as inspiration (reversing the cliché of the muse) and creative companion. For the last thirty years of Ernst’s life – he died in 1976 – he was a devoted husband and aesthetic and conceptual sounding board for his wife, Dorothea Tanning, who passed away only in January of 2012 at the age of 101. Debates and idealisms bounced between Gordon Onslow Ford and Wolfgang Paalen, bore fruit in essays, interviews and most of all in evolving artistic visions that saw them heading in very different directions by the time of Paalen’s premature death in 1959. The artistic nexus of Mexico City in the 1940’s to 1960’s, involving artists like Gunther Gerszo, Gordon Onslow Ford, Wolfgang Paalen, Remedios Varo, Leonora Carrington and Kati Horna, among others generated a kind of art that departed from Surrealist orthodoxies, even as it blossomed into visions that Mexicans to this day find enormously compelling.

During the opening reception on Thursday, September 6th and on October 13th at 5pm, there will be an experimental video with sound and performance by composer, Luciano Chessa and artist, Dana Harel at Frey Norris. The event is free and open to the public.