2011: GOMA turns 10 countdown


What were you doing in 2011 when GOMA was the exclusive Australian venue for ‘Surrealism: The Poetry of Dreams’ (11 June – 2 October 2011), a landmark exhibition of surrealist works from the Musée national d’art moderne, Centre Pompidou, in Paris. The exhibition presented more than 180 works by 56 artists, including paintings, sculptures, ‘surrealist objects’, films, photographs, drawings and collages, and was an opportunity for Brisbane to see important art works that rarely leave Paris.

Surrealism: The Poetry of Dreams Opening Celebration
Opening night celebrations / Photograph: Mark Sherwood © QAGOMA

From the opening weekend, watch renowned Australian comedy music trio Tripod, well known for their quirky and hilarious parodies using wordplay and unexpected associations. They transpose ‘Surrealism’ into musical comedy as they perform a set of their classics as well as the original Tripod ‘Song in an Hour’ performance – a completely original, improvised song inspired by the Gallery’s live audience.

On Friday nights, Up Late situated right in the heart of the ‘Surrealism’ exhibition featured music performances covering a range of styles from pop, rock and country to electronica and diverse DJ sets and also included talks by local innovators from various creative fields including design, film and photography, plus, the Gallery’s Australian Cinémathèque featured films exploring surrealism’s influence on cinema.


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USA experimental folk rock musicians Akron/Family closed the Surrealism Up Late series to huge crowds on Friday 30 September 2011 / Photographs: Brodie Standen © QAGOMA

So, the exhibition, a historical overview of Surrealism, charted its evolution from Dada experiments in painting, photography and film, through the metaphysical questioning and exploration of the subconscious in the paintings of Giorgio De Chirico and Max Ernst; to the readymade objects of Marcel Duchamp and Man Ray’s photographs. Gaining traction in the early 1920s, the movement’s development was explored through the writings of Surrealism’s founder André Breton and key early works by André Masson. Also included was a remarkable selection of paintings and sculptures by surrealists Salvador Dali, Rene Magritte, Victor Brauner, Joan Miró, Alberto Giacometti, Max Ernst and Paul Delvaux.

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Surrealism: The Poetry of Dreams weekend audience
Photographs: Natasha Harth © QAGOMA

Surrealism: The Poetry of Dreams Installation view

Surrealism: The Poetry of Dreams Installation view

Surrealism: The Poetry of Dreams Exhibition view
Photographs: Mark Sherwood © QAGOMA

Surrealisms first group exhibition was held in Paris in 1925 and the movement subsequently spread abroad, achieving international renown, this fame was enhanced by most of the group’s wartime departure for the United States, therefore the exhibition was rounded out with late works that showed the breadth of Surrealism’s influence through works by Jackson Pollock, Arshile Gorky and Joseph Cornell.


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Children were able to engage with the surrealists through multimedia, drawing and making activities at the Children’s Art Centre / Photographs: Natasha Harth © QAGOMA

‘Surrealism: The Poetry of Dreams’ was accompanied by an innovative Children’s Art Centre program, ‘Surrealism for Kids’ featured a range of interactive activities. Many popular games involving chance, word play and picture-making were rediscovered by the surrealists as creative and playful ways of unlocking the imagination.


‘The Surrealist Chronicle’ is an interactive that allows you to participate in text and language games. Styled as a typical broadsheet newspaper, The Chronicle brings to life language games played by surrealists like Tristan Tzara, André Breton and Jean-Claude Silbermann.

As we continue our weekly countdown to GOMA’s tenth birthday in December, do you remember these exhibitions from 2011?

‘Yayoi Kusama: Look Now, See Forever’ (15 October 2011 – 9 April 2012), the Gallery has had a long working relationship with Kusama, and her installations Soul under the moon 2002 and Narcissus garden 1966/2002 are among the most popular works in the Gallery’s Collection. ‘Look Now, See Forever’ transformed the spaces of the GOMA with a series of spectacular immersive rooms, featuring new sculptures and paintings as well as film projection and installation; In ‘we miss you magic land!’ (26 November 2011 – 4 March 2012) Pip & Pop (Nicole Andrijevic and Tanya Schultz) created large-scale fantasy worlds coloured with a bright fluorescent palette, using cake-decorating tools, intricate layers of sugar, glitter, modelling clay and mirrors; ‘Matisse: Drawing Life’ (3 December 2011 – 4 March 2012) was the most comprehensive exhibition of Henri Matisse’s prints and drawings ever mounted. Presented in partnership with the Bibliothèque nationale de France, the exhibition included more than 300 drawings, prints and illustrated books; ‘Ten Years of Contemporary Art: The James C Sourris AM Collection’ (12 November 2011 — 19 February 2012) celebrated James C Sourris’s involvement with the Gallery and highlighted the vital role benefaction has played in the development of the Gallery’s contemporary art Collection; ‘Threads: Contemporary Textiles & the Social Fabric’ (1 October 2011 – 5 February 2012) brought together a diverse range of contemporary textiles celebrating the ways in which contemporary artists explore and extend the textile medium; and ‘Land, Sea and Sky: Contemporary Art of the Torres Strait Islands’ (1 July – 9 October 2011) was the largest and most significant exhibition of contemporary art by Torres Strait Islander artists anywhere in the world.