Frieze New York Viewing Rooms: Gagosian Gets Surreal With ‘Daydreams and Nightmares’ Virtual Exhibition

Above: Yves Tanguy, Who Shall Answer, 1948, Oil on canvas, 43 3/4 x 36 in, 111.1 x 91.4 cm
© 2021 Estate of Yves Tanguy / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Photo: Rob McKeever
Courtesy Gagosian

When the word came down that Art Basel Switzerland will happen as an actual physical event this coming September, it was a definitive sign of hope for a struggling industry. And as the vaccinations have been proving their effectiveness, the art fairs are indeed beginning to open up to in-person possibilities.

To wit, Frieze New York (May 5 – 9) will be a physical and digital affair, with an Art:LIVE program featuring Marina Abramovic, Jessica Morgan and Annabelle Selldorf, as well as Frieze New York Talks, with artists Ulrike Müller and ruby onyinyechi amanze, amongst others, as organized by curator Amy Zion. But since many still cannot travel, and it’s all still very much about the buying and selling of works of art, there are also the online Viewing Rooms, some of which will be up past the actual closing date of the fair.

One of the more fascinating of these is that of the Gagosian gallery, which will feature the intriguingly titled Daydreams and Nightmares digital exhibition. Considering that title, it is hardly surprisingly focused around preeminent works of Surrealist art (Surrealism was inspired by dreams, after all), some officially connected to the movement itself – which carried on from the 1920s to loosely the 1950s – and some relating to its essential tenets and aesthetics. Rene Magritte, for instance, never wished to be associated with André Breton and his high-concept Surrealist Manifesto. The former’s Le Bon Temps is included as part of this Frieze collection, and conveys something ostensibly more playful (as Magritte was wont to do), with a bowler-derbied figure covered in sheet music, being glanced upon by a slumbering, detached (moon)face. Make of it what you will.

Notable also is the inclusion of Hans Bellmer‘s eerily poignant La Poupée, 1935, one of his startling sculptural works of twisted human bodies. The series was meant to be a direct riposte to the Nazi glorification of physical perfection; Bellmer was ultimately outlawed by the party, and had to flee Germany. Amongst other fascinations are Titus Kaphar’s Rapture, 2011, which seems to directly reference Bernini’s The Rape of Prosepina, and Ewa Juskiewicz’s very new Untitled (after Rembrandt Peale), 2021, with its depiction of an unsettlingly reversed head.

But it is official Surrealist (meaning he very much embraced the title) Yves Tanguy’s Who Shall Answer, 1948, that here represents the ultimate essence of the movement. Surely influenced by his contemporary Dalí – the Godfather of Surrealism – it depicts a formless landscape, which seems to actually lack a horizon. Strange, and slightly ominous shapes – some sort of indiscernible figures or formations – dot the canvas, clearly the result of a rather terrifying construct of the subconscious. It is Surrealism at its most elemental, if there could actually be such a thing.

In the overall, Daydreams and Nightmares is veritably a who’s who of those who have attempted to alter our perceptions of reality – from (of course) Dalí to Urs Fischer, Joan Miró to Andreas Gursky, plus Koons, Murakami, Warhol and even such contemporary masters as Sterling Ruby and Rachel Whiteread.

“The creative nature of the online platform gave us the opportunity to bring together a significant group of historic and contemporary artists,” says Gagosian Senior Director Andy Avini. “Daydreams and Nightmares explores parallels between the context for the emergence of Surrealism in 1924 – almost exactly one hundred years ago, in the aftermath of the Spanish Flu pandemic and World War I – and the present-day.”

Daydreams and Nightmares will be viewable across the following platforms:

Gagosian platform, Wednesday, May 5 – Saturday, May 22 at gagosian.com, Opens: Wednesday, May 5 at 11am EST, Closes: Saturday, May 22 at midnight EST, Access: Open to the public, no login needed

Frieze Viewing Room, Wednesday, May 5 – Friday, May 14 at frieze.com, VIP preview: Wednesday, May 5 at 11am EST, Member preview: Thursday, May 6 at 11am EST, Public opening: Friday, May 7 at 11am EST, Closes: Friday, May 14 at midnight EST

Gagosian will also have a physical booth at Frieze New York at The Shed, with sculptures by Rachel Feinstein and paintings by Ewa Juszkiewicz.

From Middle:

Ewa Juskiewicz
Untitled (after Rembrandt Peale), 2021
Oil on canvas
31 1/2 x 23 5/8 in
80 x 60 cm
© Ewa Juszkiewicz
Courtesy Gagosian

Titus Kaphar
Rapture, 2011
Oil on canvas
96 x 70 in
243.8 x 177.8 cm
© Titus Kaphar
Photo: Adam Reich
Courtesy Gagosian

Hans Bellmer
La Poupée, 1935
Painted aluminum
25 x 12 x 12 in
63.5 x 30.5 x 30.5 cm
© 2021 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris
Photo: Rob McKeever
Courtesy Gagosian

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