Di Donna Galleries is pleased to present A Surrealist Banquet for the Spring 2017 edition of The European Fine Art Fair (TEFAF) at the Park Avenue Armory in New York, open May 4–8. In continuing its commitment to the history of Surrealism, Di Donna will unite Surrealist and Post-War works of art inspired by the mysterious and sensual aspects of gastronomy, within a total environment that evokes the festive and convivial spirit of group dinners organized by Surrealist writers and artists beginning in the late 1920s. Following the close of TEFAF, the exhibition will transfer to Di Donna Galleries, 744 Madison Avenue, from May 11 until June 2, 2017.
Taking its cue from the history of Surrealist dinner parties where eclectic menus were served amidst curious places settings, A Surrealist Banquet will feature a sumptuous array of paintings, sculptures, and assemblages relating to food, wine, flowers, and mise en place that emblematize the Surrealists’ broader aesthetic concerns. Over 50 works will be arranged on and around an oversized wooden dining table in one of the Armory’s historic rooms, preserved in its original state with animal head trophies and antique wood paneling, and enhanced with Surrealist-inspired décor. An augmented version of this installation will be recreated in Di Donna Galleries’ new customized gallery space on Madison Avenue.
Salvador Dalí’s provocative assemblage, Buste de femme rétrospectif (1933/77), comprises a nude female mannequin who balances on her head a baguette, topped by an ornate inkwell inspired by the 19th-century painter Jean-François Millet; a stole consisting of two corn cobs hangs around her neck. This image of the nude decorated with phallic and edible items is a direct representation of Dalí’s investigations into themes of desire, memory, and repulsion.
Man Ray’s tantalizing object, Ce qui manque à nous tous (1935/63), recalls the allure of an after-dinner smoke. It features a bubble made of glass perched upon the bowl of a slender pipe—a symbolic representation of the ephemeral nature of earthly pleasures. Bronzes by Isamu Noguchi, such as Little Slate (1945), represent a poetic foray into geometric abstraction, while biomorphic sculptures by Jean (Hans) Arp, such as Rêve d’amphore (1960), playfully engage the subtle distinctions between the human body and a vessel. The imaginative animation of static objects is further represented in paintings and works on paper such as René Magritte’s gouache, L'Explication (1962), which illustrates a bottle mysteriously morphing into a giant carrot, and Balthus’s hauntingly seductive Bouquet de fleurs (1941), which depicts a lively array of flowers against a dramatic black backdrop.
The exhibition also explores the legacy and influence of Surrealism on Post-War artists, as in the comic absurdity of Claes Oldenburg’s Leaning Fork with Meatball, Study (1993), which depicts quotidian objects rendered with a raw materiality that indicates artistic processes typically reserved for the sculpture studio. In Compression d'orfévrerie (1972), the artist César compressed silver cutlery into bricklike shapes that suggest standardized industrial units, thereby transforming precious items indicating wealth and refinement into fundamental elements designed for collective use. Wayne Thiebaud’s Cheese and Olive Sandwich (1964), continues the artist’s practice of exploiting the sensuousness of his materials in a way that highlights fetishistic attitudes toward food—a relationship that is complicated, in this case, by the resemblance of his subject to a human face.
In presenting such a varied and sensuous collection of works within the setting of a dinner party, A Surrealist Banquet will address many of the common themes that define Surrealism, as well as the performative aspects of the movement. Di Donna Galleries invites visitors to embrace each installation as a hedonistic “feast” of exquisite works of art.