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Life is But a Dream: Explorations of Surreality in Southern Art

TJC Gallery, 154 West Main Street, Spartanburg, SC
Sep 19, 2013 – Nov 27, 2013

In the wake of the horrors of World War I, visual and literary artists alike experimented with imaginative creative forms to express their responses to a world wholly changed. Beginning in the early 1920s, art movements such as Dadaism and Surrealism flourished in studios on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. Artists working in a surrealist vein sought to unite their philosophical and aesthetic tenets in provocative canvases that simultaneously explored the conscious and unconscious realms of human life, blending the fantastic and the ordinary to create what poet André Breton described as “an absolute reality, a surreality.” In Life is But a Dream, over twenty selections from the Johnson Collection’s twentieth century holdings illustrate the surrealist revolution and evolution in the American South. Featuring paintings by such diverse artists as William Henry Johnson, Carroll Cloar, John McCrady, Minnie Jones Evans, Frank Marsden London, Will Henry Stevens, Ernie Barnes, and Paul Hartley, this exhibition evokes Freud, fear, race, and religion, taking viewers beyond the traditional gallery experience.

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