Under a revolutionary, emancipatory spell: Venice exhibition explores Surrealism’s interest in the occult

The Art Newspaper
Major show at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection includes works by leading lights of Surrealism, including Leonora Carrington and Dorothea Tanning

Waiting for their visas to escape war-torn Europe, a group of Surrealists gathered in a château near Marseilles during the winter of 1940-41. The movement's founder, André Breton, and artists including Max Ernst and Victor Brauner turned to games and shared projects to pass the time, collaborating on the creation of a new deck of tarot cards bearing their own favoured symbols. The King, Queen and Jack became the Magus, Siren and Genius, and cards were dedicated to figures such as Sigmund Freud, the clairvoyant Hélène Smith and the alchemist Paracelsus.


Four of the original designs for this deck appear in the first room of Surrealism and Magic: Enchanted Modernity, a major exhibition at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice that examines the Surrealists' deep, yet relatively overlooked, interest in magic and the occult. The show is co-organised with the Museum Barberini in Potsdam, Germany, where it will travel in an expanded form in October.


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APR 2022