“Undercover Surrealism: Picasso Miró, Masson, and the Vision of Georges Bataille”

Hayward Gallery
Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road
May 11–July 30, 2006

Curated by Dawn Ades, Simon Baker, and Fiona Bradley

Georges Bataille’s enterprise of sabotaging the “frock coat” of reason and running its idealist underpinnings into the mud, which began with his editing of the journal Documents in 1929, is by now well known in cultural and literary studies. But Documents was, among other things, an art magazine, and though Bataille’s take on art has been examined by specialists, the alternative view he proposed not only of Surrealism but also of modernism in general has not yet fully registered. “Undercover Surrealism” uses these very ideas as its focus: Works discussed by Bataille and others in the journal make up the bulk of the more than two hundred objects, which date from prehistory to the 1930s. The show should test the cohesiveness of Document’s group aesthetic (or, for that matter, anti-aesthetic) vision.