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International Surrealist Exhibition, London, 1936

Reference URL

International Surrealist Exhibition, London, 1936 1936 - 1998

Not on display

Surrealism erupted onto the British art scene with the ‘International Surrealist Exhibition’ in 1936. The show was organised primarily by David Gascoyne and Roland Penrose together with Herbert Read. The selection of work by British artists was difficult as no formal British surrealist group existed. However, over 390 paintings, sculptures and objects by sixty-eight artists were chosen. Works were hung in double or triple rows, alternating large and small paintings. Ethnographic sculptures and found objects were interspersed throughout. Intriguingly Salvador Dalí attempted to deliver a lecture whilst wearing a deep-sea diver’s suit and holding two hounds on a leash, but he had to be rescued after nearly suffocating. During its three-week run the exhibition attracted over 23,000 visitors.

Glossary Open


The scientific study of human cultures.


A literary and artistic movement founded by the poet André Breton in 1924. Many of the associated artists, such as Max Ernst and Jean Arp, had previously been involved with Dadaism. The movement sought to challenge conventions through the exploration of the subconscious mind, invoking the power of dreams and elements of chance. Cultural hierarchies were challenged by the combination of diverse elements in collages and sculptural assemblages. The movement is also notable for the collaborations between artists and writers evident in the Surrealists' many publications.

Ethnography, Surrealism


  • Acc. No. GMA A35 1/1/RPA719
  • Medium Various
  • Size Album page: 32.00 x 26.00 cm
  • Credit Purchased with the assistance of the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Art Fund 1994