The Surreal House exhibition, Barbican Art Gallery

'The Surrealist House' at the Barbican, 2010. The entrance to Surreal House with works by Duchamp on either side of the door. The projector is showing Buster Keaton's Steamboat Bill Jr.
(Image credit: Lyndon Douglas)

The Barbican art gallery, will play host to a new exhibition on 10 June designed specifically to highlight the significant role surrealism has played in architecture.

Installed by acclaimed architects Carmody Groarke, The Surreal House brings together over 150 works, intimating the relationship that first generation Surrealists such as Dali, Duchamp and Giacometti had with architecture, or more specifically the house, in their collective imaginations.

The lower galleries will be used to represent the inside of a house, reflecting a labyrinth journey through varying rooms which will be defined by varying degrees of sound, light and installations, all designed to affect the senses.

The exhibition is further accentuated by cinematic portrayals throughout of houses being transformed, either through dream-like arrangements or by physical attack, concluding with a sequence taken from Andrei Tarkovsky's final film - The Sacrifice - in which he sets fire to his house in an act of self-destruction.

The Surreal House exhibition will run from 10 June to 12 September. The house itself is also the location for Wallpaper's latest fashion shoot, which can be viewed in our October issue.

An exhibition hall with hanging Anarchy

'The Surrealist House' at the Barbican, 2010. 

Rebecca Horn’s Concert for Anarchy precariously hangs from one of the opening rooms.

(Image credit: Lyndon Douglas)

A room with mattress

'The Surrealist House' at the Barbican, 2010.

Sarah Lucas's Au Natural uses slang terms to construct tangible structures based on those perceptions.

(Image credit: Lyndon Douglas)

An image of house with a man sitting on table and chair

'The Surrealist House' at the Barbican, 2010.

The background shows an installation highlight: Louis Bourgeois's No Exit whilst in the foreground is Charlie Don't Surf by Maurizo Cattelan.

(Image credit: Lyndon Douglas)

A sleeping monster head

'Sleep' by Dali, 1937.

Dali's painting, a self-portrait, is a representation of a dream-like state whilst also being true to his premise that sleep is a sort of monster sustained by the crutches of reality

(Image credit: Image Courtesy of Salvador Dali, Fundacio Gala-Salvador Dali, DACS, London 2010)

An image of a white lady lying on the floor

'Femme Maison' by Louise Bourgeois, 1994. 

Presenting an on-going narrative of the relationship between womanhood and domesticity the pieces present a figure that is half woman, half house.

(Image credit: Image courtesy of Cheim & Read, Hauser & Wirth, and Galerie Karsten Greve Photo: Christopher Burke.)

An image of the mansion

'House by the Railroad' by Edward Hopper, 1925.

One of the defining houses of the 20th century, Hopper's mansion was the inspiration for the houses in Hitchcock's Psycho and the Addams family.

(Image credit: Image courtesy of Photo SCALA, Florence/ The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2010.)

Black and white image

'Le facteur Ferdinand Cheval a Hauterives' by Gilles Ehrmann, 1962.
Ehrmann's image is taken of Ferdinand Cheval's Le Palais Ideal -- a house that Cheval, a postman by trade, made from scratch. The gathering of stones was taken on Cheval's mail route and the palace's construction took him 33 years.

(Image credit: Image courtesy of Collection Centre Georges Pompidou, Dist. RMN/ Georges Meguerditchian.)

An image of swimmimg pool

'Villa Dall'Ava' in Paris by Office for Metropolitan Architecture, 1991.

This house, which looks to sit precariously on top of thin stilts, seems to adhere to Dali's contemporary work.

(Image credit: Image courtesy of Peter Aaron/Esto and OMA/DACS 2010.)

A shadow of the building

'Untitled' by Man Ray, 1920.

Man Ray was influential in both Surrealism and Dadaism and contributed works to both. They are often noted for juxtaposition of contrasting elements to create meaning.

(Image credit: Image courtesy of Man Ray Trust/ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2010.)

The face of man and woman covered with cloth

'The Lovers' by Rene Magritte, 1928.
Margritte's mother committed suicide by drowning herself when the artist was a child, supposedly, when she was pulled out of the river her nightdress covered her face. This is said to be the reason why numerous examples of Margritte's work shows faces obscured by cloth.

(Image credit: Image of courtesy of SCALA, Florence/The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2010. ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2010.)

A girl lying in the cupboard

'Self Portrait (in cupboard)' by Claude Cahun, 1932.

The wardrobe, or cupboard, is a place that is resonant of the Surrealist movement and interestingly perceived by Cahun in her self-portrait.

(Image credit: Image courtesy of Jersey Heritage Collections.)

An image of a breast

'Priere de Toucher' by Marcel Duchamp, 1947.

Priere; de Toucher: a relief of a woman's breast mounted on a cloud of black velvet. Originally the front cover of a luxury edition of a surrealist book, here it plays the role of the doorbell to the Surreal house.

(Image credit: Image courtesy of Succession Marcel Duchamp/ ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2010.)

A man behind the door

'La Bras Revelatuer' by Paul Nouge, 1929-1930. Paul Nouge was a Belgian poet and surrealist photographer who, in 1968, published 19 photographs collectively called "Subversion of the Images". Surreal House hosts the entire collection.

(Image credit: Image courtesy of DACS 2010)

An image of the zebra in the ground

'Zebra and Parachute' by Christopher Wood, 1930. Image courtesy of Tate, London, 2010. Showing an interesting juxtaposition of architecture, a zebra and a parachutist, this painting is an intriguing insight into one of Wood's final paintings and a look into the beginnings of surrealist intentions.

(Image credit: Image courtesy of Tate, London, 2010)

An image of a window

'Fresh Window' by Marcel Duchamp, 1920.

The first work signed by Duchamp's female alter ego, Rose Selavy. The glass panes are obscured by black leather -- denying any view, and instead, giving rise to the idea that Duchamp is rejecting tradition and obscuring that which we expect to see. Fresh Widow acts as a window for the Surreal House.

(Image credit: Image courtesy of Tate, London, 2010 and Succession Marcel Duchamp/ ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2010)

A black and white image of woman

'House 4' by Francesca Woodman, 1976. 

 Francesca Woodman amassed a body of work which consisted of around 800 photographs before her suicide, aged 22. Many of her known traits can be seen in this photograph: such as using the camera to create a temporary space in which images are transformed through long shutter exposure.

(Image credit: Image courtesy of George and Betty Woodman)

An image of open ground with chair

'Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret, 1929-31. Taken of Bestegui Apartment, Paris.

This image shows a little discussed work by Le Corbusier which is, by accounts, one of his most paradoxical works. The photograph is of the roof garden which has a false mantelpiece and fireplace. The design is more reflective of the surrealist tastes of the client: Charles de Beistegui than Le Corbusier himself.

(Image credit: Image courtesy of Foundation of Le Corbusier, Paris. FLC/ ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2010)


Barbican Centre
Silk Street
London EC2Y 8DS