Friday, September 03, 2010

The Surrealists

Draining the last of my hilariously-expensive Czech lager and wrenching myself away from the Cockney and his fascinating stories of the wife’s failure to buy an electric fire, I strolled idly, with time to kill, over the Millennium Bridge to Tate Modern. I had a vague idea of mooching about the artworks then walking down to Waterloo to catch the tube back to Paddington. However, it had been a long day and by the time the escalator deposited me outside Level 3: Poetry and Dream - Surrealism and Beyond (Room 2), I was feeling lightheaded and clammy and my daytrip manbag was getting intolerably heavy. Forcing myself round the Max Ernsts and Man Rays I experienced a surge of revulsion and, standing in front of Magritte’s wholly pointless The Annunciation, I found myself muttering, like one of those nuts you sometimes see in galleries, “Christ I hate the Surrealists.” Miro’s indistinguishable splodges even took on a sinister tinge, seeming to radiate an intense and personally-directed evil.

Realising I was on the verge of a London breakdown, I headed quickly for the café, for there is nothing so fortifying as a cup of tea and a sandwich in such a situation. What a load of crap the Surrealists were, I mused as I munched. Like Escher and Pink Floyd’s The Wall, these clangingly unsubtle ‘artworks’ are fine for adolescents but excruciating for adults. The worst offender by a mile being of course the Great Masturbator himself Salvador Dali, whose entire output consists of stupefying works of painstaking bad taste and technical skill. But as the tea and sarnie did their stuff and blood sugar levels stabilised, I softened. On the whole, it’s probably a good thing that the Surrealists existed, even if their popularity is wildly out of proportion. And Magritte’s Man with a Newspaper is pretty funny I suppose.


worm said...

Hear hear. It's one of those things, that if you go round to a person's house and they have anything by Dali on the wall, you think 'mental deficiency'

Mark said...

I went to the Rude Britannia expo at the Tate yesterday. One of the exhibits I noticed was a stuffed cat holding up a sign saying "I'm Dead". I wonder if this is what folks mean by surrealism? On the other hand, the exhibit made me laugh which is more than any surrealist work has so far managed and more than most allegedly satirical works have done since about 1820. Anyone tried the Dali Museum (Mausoleum) in Figueres? It's no laughing matter.

Brit said...

That cat sounds quite Banksy-ish, Mark. Now he can be very funny (though not art).