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Museum Barberini Potsdam – Exhibition “Surrealism and Magic. Enchanted Modernity” from 22.10.22


erlin's museums are home to some of the world's most famous collections, but the Museum Barberini in Potsdam near Berlin is definitely one not to be missed when visiting Berlin. The exhibitions of Gerhard Richter and Monet are unforgettable and currently the museum shows captivating insights with the exhibition "Surrealism and Magic. Enchanted Modernity". The museum gives exiting insights into surreal worlds, takes a new look at the symbolism of images and is creating fascinating cross-references to literature, philosophy and psychology.

Exhibit Hall Museum Barberini, Surrealism and Magic: Enchanted Modernity, Art Works by Enrico Donati, left: Tower of the Alchemist. Game of Ultrasound, right: Elektric Eye ((c) Kischreport

What an exciting time Paris must have been in the 1920s and 30s, when artists met the writers of the so-called “Lost Generation” and the co-founders of Parisian literary Dada André Breton, Louis Aragon and Philippe Soupault founded the magazine “Littérature”, whose followers, co-creators and actions eventually became one of the most influential currents in art, all starting in Paris.

Surrealism is not a uniform style but a state of mind

Above: Remedios Varo, Celestial Pablum ((c) VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2022); Right: Dorothea Tanning, The magic Flower Game inspired by Lewis Carrolls Alice in wonderland ((c) The Estate of Dorothea Tanning/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2022)

Breton described the basic idea of the current with his first and second “Manifesto of Surrealism”: dream and reality merge into a new reality, “Surrealism”. His writings then in turn inspired not only artists of the time but also performance artists of the present such as Christoph Schlingensief. In 1938, he was able to gather more than 200 works by 60 artists from 14 countries in a Paris exhibition (Exposition Internationale du Surréalisme). Due to the emigration of many artists to the USA, partly with the help of Peggy Guggenheim, the works were saved from war and destruction and the Surrealists were able to continue their work in their New York exile. Unlike, for example, the art of Impressionism or Cubism, Surrealism is not a uniform style, it is a state of mind. At the center of surrealism was the world of dreams and the unconscious.

Victor Brauner, The Surrealist, (Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venedig, ((c) VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2022)
Above: Max Ernst, Day and Night, (c) VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2022; Left: Leonora Carrington, The Necromancer, (c) VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2022

Can thoughts change reality?

Many surrealists studied the writings of C.G. Jung, Sigmund Freud or knew Kurt Seligmann’s book “The World Empire of Magic”. For André Breton and the followers of surrealism, magic was not a belief in the supernatural (which they rejected) but rather the idea that inner desires and longings could directly influence external reality, just as Freud’s belief in the “omnipotence of thought” in connection with the creation of art. Daniel Zamani, the curator of the exhibition explains, “With their dreamlike pictorial inventions, the Surrealists wanted to spur the human imagination and encourage viewers to engage with their inner lives.”

Paul Delvaux, Break of Day, Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice, Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York, ((c) VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2022)

Each picture of the exhibition resembles a treasure hunt – hidden in the pictures are occult symbols (occult = secret, hidden) and references to myths or legends. One finds comparisons to the search for the philosopher’s stone or the power of the 4 elements, which stand for immortality (as in Delvaux’s “Dawn” from 1937). Or you can find the symbolic language of the alchemists, with numerous symbols and magical figures, which exemplify in the tarot deck for magical protection, hope or renewal. Since the Middle Ages, alchemists tried to transform low-value metals, base materials or minerals into gold, the metal that was also a symbol of immortality. or also the into gold. Gold – the very metal that also represented a symbol of immortality. – What was gold for the alchemists, became the soul for the surrealists – an immaterial treasure that everyone can find (in themselve). The exhibition of the Barberini Museum is an invitation to dive into the world of dreams and the unconscious.

In this sense: definitely go there and enjoy dreaming!

When? October 22, 2022 – January 29, 2023

Where? Museum Barberini, Potsdam

Opening Hours? daily except Tuesdays, 10-19 h

Guided tours? Audio guides in German and English available via the Barberini App (free via Google Play or the App Store ( and guided tours take place daily at 11am and 12pm and additionally at 3pm on weekends.

Tickets? Regular from 16 €, reduced 10 €

Infos? The exhibition features around 90 works that were previously shown at the Guggenheim Museum in Venice at the same time as the Biennale. Well-known representatives of Surrealism such as Max Ernst, René Magritte, and Salvador Dalí are represented there, as are numerous previously unknown representatives. The works on loan have been gathered from more than 50 international museums and private collections, and a large part of them also come from the Peggy Guggenheim Collection.

If you want to stay in the theme of surrealism: artists like Man Ray or Buñuel expanded the boundaries of film in the spirit of surrealism – which is why the Filmmuseum Potsdam is showing a series of films to match the exhibition.

Film series “Maximal Surreal” – Films from 10 decades and a film dream

Where? Film Museum Potsdam

When? October 30, 2022 to January 22, 2023

Program & Tickets? directly via the link: Film Museum Potsdam