Surrealism in American Art and American Surrealist Artists


This section of the Traditional Fine Arts Organization (TFAO) catalogue Topics in American Art is devoted to the topic "Surrealism in American Art and American Surrealist Artists." Articles and essays specific to this topic published in TFAO's Resource Library are listed at the beginning of the section. Clicking on titles takes readers directly to these articles and essays. The date at the end of each title is the Resource Library publication date.

After articles and essays from Resource Library are links to valuable online resources found outside our website. Links may be to museums' articles about exhibits, plus much more topical information based on our online searches. Following online resources may be information about offline resources including museums, DVDs, and paper-printed books, journals and articles.

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Articles and essays from Resource Library in chronological order:

Lawrence Tarpey: Figures & Ground (6/27/16)

Arshile Gorky: A Retrospective (11/16/09)

David Michael Bowers: Humanity Unveiled (3/26/09)

Dark Metropolis: Irving Norman's Social Surrealism (1/31/07)

Dark Metropolis: Irving Norman's Social Surrealism (8/25/06)

Surrealism USA (3/21/05)

Lost Identities: Surrealist Works of Jo Owens Murray and Clifford Lamoree, with essays by Graziella Marchicelli (4/29/03)

Surrealism in America During the 1930s and 1940s: Selections from the Penny and Elton Yasuna Collection (12/18/99)

Edward Weston, Photography and Modernism (5/15/99)


From other websites:

"American Surrealism and View Magazine," essay by Andrew Otwell, 1996, from Histories and Theories of Intermedia blog. Accessed August, 2015.

Art of John Patrick Kelly is a 2016 exhibit at the Coral Springs Museum of Art which says: "Patrick's surrealistic oils combine fantasy, eroticism, humor, and a deep, esoteric understanding of life into a visual potpourri that leaves a lasting impression on most viewers." Accessed 10/18  

Bob Coonts: Art & Influence is a 2016 exhibit at the Fort Collins Museum of Art which says: "Coonts chooses bold, expressive color within his art and makes his subjects come alive through this intuitive use of non-realistic color. His subject matter mostly consists of animals, landscapes and abstract compositions and mythology, nature, Native American, Celtic, Asian, Middle Eastern, Greek and Roman art are strong influences in his work." Also see artist's website. Accessed 3/17

Chuck Connelly: My America is a 2014-15 exhibit at the Andy Warhol Museum which says: "His subjects have varied widely from religious imagery to cosmic visions, landscapes, portraits, domestic interiors, and Victorian homes from his neighborhood in East Oak Lane, Philadelphia. In spite of such a varied career, Connelly's penchant for the surreal and fantastic have remained constant." Also see the artist's website. Accessed 3/17

Collection Close-Up: The Graphic Work of Dorothea Tanning is a 2019 exhibit at the Menil Collection which says: "These prints and illustrated books feature images that range from representation to near total abstraction, demonstrating the breadth of Tanning's formal innovation. Experimenting with lithography, etching, and aquatint, Tanning produced a variety of surface textures, some crystalline, others cloud-like." Also see 7/25/19 article in Houston Chronicle Accessed 11/19

Gordon Onslow Ford: Voyager and Visionary, an exhibit held February 11 - May 13, 2012 at the Mint Museum. Includes Mintwiki with exhibit brochure, audio tour and video. Accessed March, 2015.

Inka Essenhigh: A Fine Line is a 2018 exhibit at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts which says: "Inka Essenhigh's surreal dream worlds are like fairy tales that challenge the imagination."  Also see artist's website. Accessed 10/18

Internal Landscapes: The Mysterious World of Steven Kenny  is a 2018 exhibit at the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art which says: "Focusing on the beauty and mystery of the natural world, Steven Kenny's paintings illuminate the bonds between humans and nature through a surrealist context."  Also see artist's website  Accessed 2/18

Invented Worlds of Valton Tyler is a 2017 exhibit at the Amon Carter Museum which says: "For more than forty years, Texas artist Valton Tyler (b. 1944) has depicted unparalleled worlds from his imagination. His captivating artworks feature unique interplays of identifiable, organic, mechanistic, and surreal shapes, which often rise from mountain, desert, or arctic landscapes." Also see 4/5/11 article in The Brooklyn Rail. Accessed 3/17

Jim Woodring: The Pig Went Down to the Harbor at Sunrise and Wept is a 2017 exhibit at the Frye Art Museum which says: "Woodring renders swirling amalgamations of phantasmagorical creatures and organic matter, avoiding recognizable characters and narratives. In doing so, the artist delves deeper into the surreal and fantastical universe that is central to his greater project." Also see artist's website. Accessed 3/1

Joseph Cornell / Matrix 30 is a 1980 exhibit at the Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive which says: "This current MATRIX unit focuses on an early period in his career, 1930-1940, in which Cornell's links to modernism, specifically Surrealism, are clearly seen. Cornell adapted many of the ideas and techniques of Surrealism to his own sensibility, creating a body of work that remains one of the most unique American Extensions of this European movement." Assemblage artist. Accessed 3/17

Joseph Cornell and Surrealism, an exhibit held March 7 - June 8, 2014 at the Fralin Museum of Art. Accessed January, 2016.

Julie Speed: East of the Sun and West of the Moon is a 2019 exhibit at the Taubman Museum of Art which says: "Sometimes described as neo-surrealist, Speed's art holds affinity with the figurative Surrealism of René Magritte, yet her work offers scenarios that are simultaneously more personal and more complex than Magritte's visual puns."  Also see artist's website  Accessed 3/20

Kate Eric: One Plus One Minus One, an exhibit held June 26 to December 31, 2011 at the Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art. Accessed August, 2015.

Lamar Baker (1908 - 1994) Selected Works on Paper was an exhibit held July 23, 2016 - January 29, 2017 at the Columbus Museum - Georgia. The museum says: "One of the many important artists to work in Columbus, Lamar Baker is best known for his vivid, frequently surrealist, depictions of Southern life. An Atlanta native, Baker moved to New York in 1935 to work and study, returning to Georgia to spend summers with family in Waverly Hall. During his years in New York, Southern life and scenery remained the focus of his art." Accessed August, 2016.

Lezley Saar: Salon des Refusés is a 2017 exhibit at the California African American Museum which says: "Salon des Refusés (Salon of the Rejected) includes three of Saar's most recent bodies of work: Madwoman in the Attic/Madness and the Gaze, Monad, and Gender Renaissance, along with a selection of early altered books that show the origins of the artist's interest in literature, mixed media, and marginalized figures."  Accessed 12/17

Marcos Raya - Night Train is a 2017 exhibit at the Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art which says: "Chicago artist Marcos Raya has a long, established career and a varied practice, with topics that range from futurism and surrealism, to social, sexual and political commentary." Also see entry in Wikipedia    Accessed 8/17

Matthew Barnes And The World Of Night  is a 2019 exhibit at the Oceanside Museum of Art which says: "Once San Francisco's best-known modernist and avidly collected by East Coast patrons, Matthew Barnes is enjoying recognition again after languishing in obscurity since his death in 1951 thanks to the current vogue for dark Surrealism." Accessed 4/19

Morgan Bulkeley: Nature Culture Clash is a 2017 exhibit at the Berkshire Museum which says: "Humorous and ominous at the same time, Morgan Bulkeley's active, engrossing images offer compelling scenarios where humans are pitted against nature, with nature holding the advantage." Also see artist's website  Accessed 11/17

Patricia Nix: American Baroque is a 2017 exhibit at the Boca Raton Museum of Art which says: "Just as Nix can be seen as an heir to American master collagist Joseph Cornell, she belongs among a group of women artists of Surrealism who included, in its founding generation, Jacqueline Lamba Breton, Remedios Varo, Leonor Fini, and Meret Oppenheim." Also see 8/6/17 article in and artist's website.  Accessed 9/17

Real/Surreal is a 2014 exhibit at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. The museum's website says: "This exhibition explores the interconnections between the real and the imagined in early modern American art, with an emphasis on Surrealism and Magic Realism." Also, "The Mystery Beneath is a companion exhibition to Real/Surreal in the main galleries. Including paintings, prints, and drawings, it explores the lasting traditions of Surrealism and Magic Realism as they developed in Wisconsin during the twentieth century." The Mystery Beneath was on exhibit January 25, 2014 to April 13, 2014 Accessed February, 2015

Real/Surreal is a 2013 exhibit at the Akron Art Museum which says: "Featuring more than 60 paintings, drawings, prints and photographs dating from 1930 to 1955 drawn from the collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art, Real/Surreal examines how American artists used strikingly naturalistic details to imaginative images inspired by dreams and how they introduced disconcerting undertones into compositions that featured seemingly ordinary scenes."  Accessed 3/17

Relatively: Michail Krasnow Retrospective is a 2017 exhibit at the Western Colorado Center for the Arts which says: "Hyper-realistic in form yet overwhelmingly surrealist in content, the subject matter and symbolism in Krasnow's work is often rooted in his dual identification with his Russian heritage and his life in the United States." Accessed 1/18

Robert Pepper, Selected Works of An Englishman Abroad, an exhibit held 3/11/00 - 6/11/00 at the Reading Public Museum. Includes essay by Robert Metzger, Ph.D, Director, CEO, Chief Curator, Reading Public Museum and Jane Runyeon, Co-curator. Accessed April, 2015.

Robert Therrien is a 2013 exhibit at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery which says: "Since the 1970s, Therrien (born 1947) has created work sourced from memory and the everyday -- a snowman, a chapel, a coffin, a keyhole, a stack of plates -- coaxing humble elements into surreal configurations through abstraction, repetition, color, and scale." Also see the Gagosian website. Accessed 3/17

Springs Surreal was a 1015-16 exhibit at Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, which says: "Springs Surreal celebrates the work of four Colorado Springs-based artists, each working within the realms of dreamscape, fantasy, ready-made, and chance. These artists are looking to their Surrealist predecessors and at the same time personalizing and contemporizing the philosophies that defined the movement during its inception during the early 20th century between World Wars I and II, taking form first in literature then in visual arts." Accessed 10/16

Subversion and Surrealism in the Art of Honoré Sharrer is a 2017 exhibit at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts which says: "The visual and conceptual conflation of Sharrer's archives ties her particular method of surrealist non sequitur and juxtaposition to the barrage of advertisements, horrific news clips, society gossip, and other ubiquitous material culture and social convention that provided fodder for Pop Art."  Also see press release  Accessed 8/17

The Surreal Life: Gerry Snyder and Marco Rosichelli, an exhibit held September 25, 2009 - January 31, 2010 at the New Mexico Museum of Art. Accessed March, 2015.

Surrealism: An American Attitude at the Thomas McCormick Gallery, Chicago, March 23 - April 28, 2001, from Accessed August, 2015.

Surrealism USA - A Special Exhibition Review by Stan Parchin. From Accessed August, 2015.

Surrealism from AskArt. Accessed August, 2015.

"Surrealism" by James Voorhies, Department of European Paintings, The Metropolitan Museum of Art from the Timeline of Art History section of the Metropolitan Museum of Art website. Accessed August, 2015.

Varujan Boghosian   is a 2017 exhibit at the Currier Museum of Art   which says: "New Hampshire's Varujan Boghosian (b. 1926) has created a singular niche for himself in the contemporary art world. His work challenges the viewer to look at common objects in new ways by presenting them in unique contexts. Boghosian takes on universal themes such as love and death, and success and failure, often through the lens of mythology." Also see 6/15/17 article in the Valley News. Also see entry  in Wikipedia. Accessed 8/17

Alonso G. Smith: A Half Century of Social Surrealism. by Scott Beale. The webpage for the video says: "Produced during Alonso Smith's final years, this half-hour documentary explores the life and work of one of America's most fascinating surrealist painters whose legacy is an amazing body of work that stands as a visual document of the last half of the 20th Century." Accessed August, 2015.

San Jose Museum of Art produced a 5-part video series titled Todd Schorr: American Surreal, available online through ArtBabble. According to ArtBabble, "Todd Schorr has painted two large format paintings in which he addresses his influences as an artist - one reflects on the cartoon perspective and the other on the horror film perspective. In this video Todd offers insight into how the pieces came about and some of the subject matter in each. Todd Schorr: American Surreal is the first mid-career retrospective of the Los Angeles-based artist. Schorr is a leading figure in Southern California's cartoon-based movement, dubbed Pop Surrealism, which embraces low-brow culture and a ribald graphic style indebted to pop sources such as Mad magazine. Schorrs astonishing, highly polished realism, (inspired by Bosch, Brueghel and Dali), sets him apart from his best-known peers such as Camille Rose Garcia, Gary Baseman, and Mark Ryde" Accessed June, 2015.


DVD/VHS videos:

Irving Norman: To Whom It May Concern, a 27-minute documentary film by Susan Friedman.

Man Ray: Prophet of the Avant-Garde. This 60 minute 1997 Jackson Frost American Masters program looks at one of the most important artistic voices of the American modernist movement. Photographer, painter, filmmaker, poet, essayist and philosopher Man Ray brought innovation to every field he worked in, leaving behind a legacy of true genius. This program traces the artist's legacy from his beginnings in New York to his achievements in Paris and finally, to the impact his work left for future generations in a variety of fields The video also includes a previously unseen filmed interview found in the vaults of a Rotterdam museum and long-lost drawings from the artist's student days not seen since 1908. VHS/DVD. DVD includes extra Man Ray short films. See a trailer [01:31] via I. MDb. Accessed August, 2015.

View a video named similarly to Man Ray: Prophet of the Avant-Gard with Mel Sturat and Molly Barnes [28:01]. [Link found to be expired as of 2015 audit. TFAO is saving the citation for use by researchers.]

Voyage of the Tin Man, T.L. Solien is a 30-minute video on the art of T.L. Solien who has received increasing national attention for his surreal, highly personal visions of the world. Drawing upon the struggles of daily life, the landscape and his imagination, Solien's work is interesting and full of surprise (quote courtesy Plains Art Msueum)

TFAO does not maintain a lending library of videos or sell videos. Click here for information on how to borrow or purchase copies of VHS videos and DVDs listed in TFAO's Videos -DVD/VHS, an authoritative guide to videos in VHS and DVD format.



Surrealism USA (exh. cat.). Isabelle Dervaux et al. New York and Germany: National Academy Museum and Hatje Cantz Publishers, 2005.

A boatload of madmen surrealism and the American avant-garde, 1920-1950. Dickran Tashjian. New York, NY : Thames and Hudson, 2001.

Surrealism and American art, 1931-1947 : Rutgers University Art Gallery, March 5-April 24, 1977. Jeffrey Wechsler, with collaboration and an introductory essay by Jack J. Spector. New Brunswick, N.J. : Rutgers, 1976.

Abstract & surrealist art in America New York, 1896-1989. Janis Sidney. Arno Press, 1969.

Surrealism in exile and the beginning of the New York school. Martica Sawin. Cambridge, Mass. : MIT Press, 1995.

Pacific dreams: currents of surrealism and fantasy in California art, 1934-1957. Edited by Susan Ehrlich. Los Angeles : UCLA at the Armand Hammer Museum of Art and Cultural Center, c1995.

Dada, Surrealism, and Their Heritage. William S. Rubin. New York, The Museum of Modern Art, 1968


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