Exploring Surrealism in a surreal world: NGV’s new online course is reviving a cultural phenomenon

Exploring Surrealism in a surreal world: NGV’s new online course is reviving a cultural phenomenon

Salvador Dali’s ‘Trilogy of the Desert: Mirage’ (1946)
Words by Charisa Bossinakis

Surrealism was a 20th-century phenomenon.

Starting on Monday July 13, the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) will be offering an intermediate-level study of the history and evolution of Surrealism – one of the 20th century’s most revolutionary cultural movements.

The five-part course will take place online and delve into the birth of the Surrealist movement in Europe during the 1920s, vital artists that formed the movement, key techniques practised by Surrealist artists, Surrealism’s arrival in Australia in the 1930s and its influence on contemporary art and visual culture.

Famous works from the NGV collection including Salvador Dali’s 1946 painting Trilogy of the Desert: Mirage, will be referenced throughout the course to contextualise online learning as well.

The curriculum will be delivered through introductory educational videos, essay readings, activities and quizzes created by NGV curators, academics and industry experts. Special guests will include La Trobe University lecturer in Screen Studies, Dr Anna Dzenis, multi-award-winning advertising creative, Adam Ferrier, and art critic and presenter, Dr Andrew Frost.

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We are excited to announce the launch of NGV online courses. Kicking off in July, Surrealism: 1920s to Now is a 5-week course tracing the movement from its birth in Europe to its arrival in Australia and its ongoing influence on contemporary art and visual culture. NGV curators and guests present an intermediate level study of the history of Surrealism. Registration is now open, follow the link in bio to learn more. SURREALISM: 1920s TO NOW ⭐ Course Run #1: Start date 13 July ⭐ Course Run #2: Start date 24 August #NGVEveryDay • Salvador Dali Trilogy of the desert: Mirage (1946) National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne The Eugenie Crawford Bequest, Professor AGL Shaw AO Bequest, The Nigel Peck AM and Patricia Peck Fund, Morry Fraid AM and The Spotlight Foundation, The Fox Family Foundation, Ken Harrison AM and Jill Harrison, The Hansen Little Foundation, The Betsy and Ollie Polasek Endowment and donors to the 2018 NGV Foundation Annual Dinner and 2018 NGV Annual Appeal, 2017 © Salvador Dalí, Fundació Gala-Salvador Dalí/VEGAP, Madrid. Licensed by Copyright Agency, Australia

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Senior Curator of International Art, Ted Gott, said the NGV ran a similar course before the virtual program was developed and found these classes to be “extremely popular”.

He said that genre is particularly relevant to today’s culture, noting everything happening in the world right now feels “incredibly surreal” in itself.

“Surrealism was born after the devastation of World War I, people were exposed to trauma and suffered immensely, you could even draw parallels with what triggered the movement to the public health crisis happening right now,” Gott says.

“The course will not only to teach the history of the genre, but it will also stress the importance of Surrealism in contemporary culture today.

“It (Surrealism) doesn’t necessarily provide answers on how the world works, the genre instead aims to unlock the unconscious mind and spark questions on the nature of our surroundings,” Gott continues. “Ultimately, I want this course to remind participants how vital art is to the community and how it’s a necessity to us all.”

NGV’s Surrealism course will hold virtual study sessions on Thursdays, 5pm – 6pm, for the first course starting on July 13 and on Fridays, 12pm – 1pm, for the course starting on August 24. Enrol for a course here

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