Monsters & Myths

With nearly 90 Surrealist masterworks by artists such as Salvador Dalí, Pablo Picasso, Max Ernst, and André Masson, the Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) presents the first major exhibition – Monsters & Myths: Surrealism and War in the 1930s and 1940s. Despite the political and personal turmoil brought on by the Spanish Civil War and World War II, avant-garde artists pushed themselves to create some of the most potent and striking images of the Surrealist movement using used monsters and mythic figures to depict their experiences of war, violence, and exile. The exhibit will be at BMA until May 26, 2019. This ticketed exhibition is co-organized by the BMA and the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art.

“This groundbreaking exhibition explores a facet of one of the 20th-century’s most influential and revolutionary avant-garde art movements,” said BMA Dorothy Wagner Wallis Director Christopher Bedford. “The Surrealist artists’ monstrous responses to the wars in Europe are a perfect evocation of both the violent external forces and the internal anguish they experienced.”

The BMA’s exhibition is organized with thematic sections that focus on prominent subjects such as the Minotaur, as well as sections on the artists’ responses to social and political upheavals. Exhibition highlights include Picasso’s Minotauromachy (1935), Dalí’s Soft Construction with Boiled Beans (Premonition of a Civil War) (1936), Ernst’s Europe After the Rain II (1940–42), and Masson’s There Is No Finished World (1942). Among the works by American artists responding to the war are Rothko’s The Syrian Bull (1943) and Tanning’s The Temptation of Saint Anthony (1945/46). The exhibition concludes with two films: Un Chien Andalou (1929) by Luis Buñuel and Dalí and Meshes of the Afternoon (1943) by Maya Deren.

“This exhibition features art created in dark and truly horrifying times,” said BMA Associate Curator of European Painting and Sculpture Oliver Shell. “What is remarkable is the vulnerability and resilience of these artists both in their personal lives and in their efforts to investigate, at times through myths, those areas of the mind where the propensity for violence lies.”

Many artists contributed to VVV, a magazine devoted to Surrealism that both the BMA and the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art were at the forefront of promoting Surrealist art in the United States. The Wadsworth presented the first U.S. exhibition of Surrealist art in 1931. One of the BMA’s most generous donors, Saidie Adler May, collected works by Surrealist and other European and American avant-garde artists and gave many of them to the museum. She also provided the funds to rescue artist André Masson and his family from Nazi-occupied France in May 1941. Six months later, the BMA presented the first U.S. retrospective of Masson’s work, which opened on October 31, 1941.

Exhibit Information

Dates: February 24–May 26, 2019

Visitor Information: General admission to the BMA is free. Special exhibitions may be ticketed. The BMA is open Wednesday through Sunday from 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. The museum is closed Monday, Tuesday, New Year’s Day, July 4, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. The BMA is located at 10 Art Museum Drive, three miles north of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. For general museum information, call 443-573-1700 or visit

Audio Guide: To hear the exhibition’s free audio guide featuring the exhibition curator and other experts, please bring your fully-charged smartphone and earbuds or headphones with you on the day of your visit. The BMA also has a limited number of iPods available for guests to borrow.

Tickets: Tickets are available through Prices are $15 for adults, $13 for seniors, $12 for groups of 7 or more, $10 for students with ID, and $5 for youth ages 7–18. BMA Members and children age 6 and under are admitted free (Join here). For more information, call 443-573-1701.

To reserve tickets, click here.

Founded in 1914, The Baltimore Museum of Art is a major cultural destination recognized for engaging diverse audiences through dynamic exhibitions and innovative educational and community outreach programs. The BMA’s internationally renowned collection of 95,000 objects encompasses more than 1,000 works by Henri Matisse anchored by the famed Cone Collection of modern art, as well as one of the nation’s finest holdings of prints, drawings, and photographs. The galleries showcase an exceptional collection of art from Africa; important works by established and emerging contemporary artists; outstanding European and American paintings, sculpture, and decorative arts; significant artworks from China; ancient Antioch mosaics; and exquisite textiles from around the world. The 210,000- square-foot museum is also distinguished by a grand historic building designed in the 1920s by renowned American architect John Russell Pope and two beautifully landscaped gardens featuring an array of 20th-century sculpture. The BMA is located in Charles Village, three miles north of the Inner Harbor, and is adjacent to the main campus of Johns Hopkins University. General admission to the BMA is free so that everyone can enjoy the power of art.

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