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“Surrealism 100” international conference at the Estonian National Museum

On 14 May, an international conference will take place as part of the museum’s exhibition “Surrealism 100. Prague, Tartu and Other Stories…” bringing together poets, artists, curators, musicians, museum workers and researchers from Estonia, Belgium, Sweden and the Czech Republic.

A sight from the exhibition „Surrealism 100. Prague, Tartu and other stories…". Photographer: Anu Ansu
04. May

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of the surrealist literary and artistic movement. Presentations at the conference will explore the expression of surrealism in poetry, art and science. It will bring together word and image, poetry and the brain, going behind the scenes with musicians, composers and circles of friends, the artists Ülo Sooster, Ilmar Malin, Toyen and Jindřich Štyrský, and the development and expressions of surrealism in the works of Estonian artists in different time periods. Speakers include Jaan Malin, Liisa Kaljula, Kadri Mägi and Mari Laaniste from Estonia, Philip Meersman from Belgium, Anna Pravdová from the National Gallery Prague and Johannes Bergmark from Sweden.

“The themes addressed at the conference will broaden and deepen our understanding of surrealism as a cultural movement, which is difficult to define precisely, as the experience with the exhibition at the Estonian National Museum has shown,” said Joanna Hoffmann, the director of the Tartu Art Museum and curator of the exhibition, adding: “It may well be that, after the conference, participants will see surrealist art from a completely new perspective, noticing more nuances and finding new meanings.”

The presentations will be in Estonian and in English. All presentations can be listened to on headphones in both languages, with simultaneous interpretation.

The Estonian National Museum exhibition “Surrealism 100. Prague, Tartu and Other Stories…” was organised in collaboration with the National Gallery Prague, because Prague was, alongside Paris, the most important centre of surrealism in Europe in the 20th century. In Estonia, surrealism was approached more chaotically. Many artists, such as Eduard Wiiralt and Karin Luts, produced art with surrealist overtones, but they did not devote themselves exclusively to it. Ülo Sooster and Ilmar Malin can be considered the most consistent surrealists in Estonian art. But the exhibition surprises with a number of gems from Estonian artists whose works are generally familiar to us in contexts other than surrealism.

Conference programme and registration:

The exhibition “Surrealism 100. Prague, Tartu and Other Stories…” is part of the European Capital of Culture Tartu 2024 main programme.