Curated by Grazina Subelyte, Associate Curator, Peggy Guggenheim Collection

Peggy Guggenheim Collection, April 9–September 26, 2022
Museum Barberini, Potsdam, October 22, 2022–January 29, 2023

Surrealism and Magic: Enchanted Modernity is a joint exhibition project between the Peggy Guggenheim Collection and the Museum Barberini. It is the first large-scale international loan exhibition that looks at the movement’s interest in magic and the occult. Presenting about 60 works, in the Venetian venue, from over 40 international museums and private collections, it offers a rich overview of the entire development of the Surrealist movement, exploring the myriad ways, in which magic and the occult informed its artistic trajectory, from the “metaphysical painting” of Giorgio de Chirico around 1915, through Max Ernst’s iconic painting Attirement of the Bride (1940), to the occult imagery that underpinned the late works of Leonora Carrington and Remedios Varo. In their works, Surrealist artists frequently drew on occult symbolism and cultivated the traditional image of the artist’s persona as a magician, seer, and alchemist, looking to magic as a poetic and deeply philosophical discourse, related to individual self-empowerment.

Surrealism and Magic: Enchanted Modernity

The exhibition’s point of departure is the world-class Surrealist holdings of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, containing iconic paintings that powerfully reflect the Surrealists’ dialogue with the occult tradition. Many of the artists represented in this show were exhibited during their lifetimes by Peggy Guggenheim, who emerged as one of the most energetic collectors and patrons of Surrealism toward the end of the 1930s. Having familiarized herself with the movement during her stay in Paris between the wars, she was on intimate terms with Max Ernst and André Breton, founder of the Surrealism with his Manifesto of Surrealism, published in October 1924.

The exhibition includes works by Victor Brauner, Leonora Carrington, Salvador Dalí, Giorgio de Chirico, Paul Delvaux, Maya Deren, Óscar Domínguez, Max Ernst, Leonor Fini, René Magritte, Roberto Matta, Wolfgang Paalen, Kay Sage, Kurt Seligmann, Yves Tanguy, Dorothea Tanning, and Remedios Varo, among the others. Among the national and international lenders are the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh, the Moderna Museet in Stockholm, the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, The Menil Collection in Houston, the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia in Madrid, Art Institute of Chicago, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, and the Castello di Rivoli Museo d’Arte Contemporanea in Rivoli-Torino.

magic clips

Together with the exhibition curator Gražina Subelytė, and the Curator of the Museum Barberini, Potsdam, Daniel Zamani, discover the mysteries that lie behind the paintings of Victor Brauner, Leonora Carrington, Max Ernst, René Magritte and the other protagonists of this must-see show.

Max Ernst "Attirement of the Bride", 1940

René Magritte "Black Magic" ("La magie noire"), 1945

Leonora Carrington "The Necromancer", 1950

Victor Brauner "The Lovers", 1947

Giorgio de Chirico "The Child’s Brain" ("Le Cerveau de l’enfant"), 1914

Dorothea Tanning, "The Magic Flower Game", 1941

Remedios Varo, "Celestial Pablum", 1958

Salvador Dalí, “Uranium and Atomica Melancholia Idyll”, 1945

L. Carrington, “Grandmother Moorhead‘s Aromatic Kitchen”, 1975

André Masson, "Ophelia", 1937


Leonora Carrington (1917–2011)
The Pleasures of Dagobert, 1945
Egg tempera on Masonite, 74.9 x 86.7 cm
Private collection

Max Ernst (1891–1976)
Attirement of the Bride (La Toilette de la mariée), 1940
Oil on canvas, 129.6 x 96.3 cm
Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice (Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York)
76.2553 PG 78

Leonor Fini (1907–1996)
The Shepherdess of the Sphinxes, 1941
Oil on canvas, 46.2 x 38.2 cm
Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice (Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York)
76.2553 PG 118

Dorothea Tanning (1910–2012)
The Magic Flower Game, 1941
Oil on canvas, 91.5 x 43.5 cm
Private collection, South Dakota

Victor Brauner (1903–1966)
The Surrealist (Le Surréaliste), 1947
Oil on canvas, 60 x 45 cm
Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice (Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York)
76.2553 PG 111

Max Ernst (1891–1976)
Europe after the Rain II, 1940-1942
Oil on canvas, 54.8 × 147.8 cm
Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, The Ella Gallup Sumner and Mary Catlin Sumner Collection Fund
Inv. 1942.281

Public programs

On the occasion of the Surrealism and Magic: Enchanted Modernity exhibition, the Peggy Guggenheim Collection offered a varied program of collateral events in order to introduce and explore the themes of the exhibition in relation to Surrealism – such as occultism, magic, alchemy, the world of dreams and the subconscious. The program also aimed to celebrate the fascinating cultural and historical context that the Surrealist called “a new modernity,” or “an enchanted modernity.”

Naked Lobsters: Undisciplined Muses

Surrealism Multilayer

The Color of Dreams

Lead up to the exhibition

Daily at the museum

Free presentation of the temporary exhibition

Daily at 3pm, from April 9 to September 26.
Visitors are invited to discover the exhibition Surrealism and Magic: Enchanted Modernity. The introduction will illustrate the role played by magic and occultism in the Surrealist avant-garde.

April: "Esoteric Sciences and Occultism"

Meet the Curator

April 9, 11:30 am
Guided tour with exhibition curator Gražina Subelytė.

Magical Venice

April 29, 5 pm
A treasure hunt in the esoteric city of Venice with Alberto Toso Fei.

May: “Fluidity and Transformation”

Living with Leonora

May 11, 6 pm
Joanna Moorhead, Leonora Carrington’s cousin, will recount some of the major events in the artist’s life.

June: “The Artist-Magician Capable of Changing the World”

September: “The World of Dreams”

The exhibition is organized by the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice, and the Museum Barberini, Potsdam.

In Venice, the exhibition is made possible with the generous support of the Manitou Fund, with special thanks to Kevin and Rosemary McNeely.

The exhibition programs of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection are supported by the Peggy Guggenheim Collection Advisory Board. The educational programs in conjunction with the exhibition are funded by the Fondazione Araldi Guinetti, Vaduz. The exhibitions at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection are made possible by the Institutional Patrons, EFG, Lavazza, Sanlorenzo and by the Guggenheim Intrapresæ.

Thanks to Rubelli for its generous contribution.

With the support of

The exhibition is made possible by
  • Allegrini + Apice + Arper + Eurofood + Florim + Gruppo Campari + Hangar Design Group + Istituto Europeo di Design + Itago + Mapei + René Caovilla + Rubelli + Swatch