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Zaaloverzicht This is Surrealism!, foto Peter Tijhuis
01 Jun 2020 - 27 Sep 2020

This is Surrealism! The Boijmans Masterpieces

Image above: Gallery view with Salvador Dali, Mae West Lips Sofa, 1938
Collection Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen© Pictoright Amsterdam 2020. Photo: Peter Tijhuis

  • Surrealist masterpieces in a surreal time
  • Surrealist masterpieces from the collection of Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen presented at the Cobra Museum Amstelveen
  • Salvador Dali, René Magritte, Max Ernst, Miró, Marcel Duchamp, Man Ray, Leonora Carrington, Paul Delvaux a.o.
Gallery view with Salvador Dali, Couple aux têtes pleines de nuages, 1936 Collectie Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen© Pictoright Amsterdam 2020. Photo: Peter Tijhuis. Gallery view with Salvador Dali, Couple aux têtes pleines de nuages, 1936 Collectie Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen© Pictoright Amsterdam 2020. Photo: Peter Tijhuis.

Without people watching over your shoulder, you can come and see forty masterpieces from Boijmans’ surrealist art collection in the Cobra Museum in Amstelveen before they will go on a world tour. An exceptional collaboration that, in this strange reality, results in a memorable encounter with Dalí, Magritte, Man Ray and Agar.


Qu’est-ce que le surréalisme? This is Surrealism!
In 1934 André Breton, leader of the Paris surrealists, published a lecture he had given earlier that year, entitled Qu’est-ce que le surréalisme? (What is surrealism?). A historical edition, with a famous illustration by René Magritte on the cover, which is part of this exhibition. This is Surrealism! addresses this central question via key works by Salvador Dali, René Magritte, André Breton, Man Ray, Eileen Agar, Max Ernst and other artists divided into nine themes.

André Breton, Ou’est-ce que le surréalisme? 1934 met illustratie van René Magritte. Collectie Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen© Pictoright Amsterdam 2020

Interim director Stefan van Raay of the Cobra Museum: “We are proud that the Cobra Museum in Amstelveen will be able to show various world-renowned surrealist masterpieces from the Boijmans collection over the next four months. A wonderful example of vital collaboration between fellow Dutch museums in this challenging period.”

Director of Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Sjarel Ex: “We are very pleased that, despite the corona-pandemic, we managed, with great enthusiasm and effort, to put together a special exhibition where visitors of the Cobra Museum can get acquainted with our outstanding surrealist art collection from Rotterdam and the rest of the world.

9 themes, 21 artists

In 1916, a group of poets and artists in Zurich turned against academism and all common beliefs about culture. Their ideas are picked up at lightning speed by others and it is therefore not long before the Dadaists – as they call themselves – operate on an international scale. They make “anti-art” such as noise concerts and nonsense poems. Their views form the breeding ground from which surrealism originated in 1924. Many Dadaists later join the Paris surrealists around André Breton for a shorter or longer period.

In response to the atrocities caused by the First World War, the surrealists reject the ratio and everything that is common. Instead, they want to make art that is contrary, irrational and shocking. To achieve this, they come up with all sorts of games and techniques that stimulate chance and breathe new life into existing methods such as collage.

In surrealism, everyday objects are used to create unusual situations and René Magritte is a master of this. When Magritte arrived in Le Perreux-sur-Marne in Paris in September 1927, he was not immediately included in the local surrealist movement. Not only does his tailor-made suit and bowler hat deviate from what is common in those circles, he also does not use automatic techniques and does not portray dreams on his canvases. Instead, he begins to make paintings about the relationship between words and images. Since the surrealists create works of art that are inspired by their dreams or subconscious, surrealism does not result in a well-defined art-historical movement or style. This allows surrealistic artworks to take all forms and be figurative as well as abstract.

Unique collaboration

This is Surrealism! The Boijmans masterpieces opens at the Cobra Museum of Modern Art in Amstelveen on the first of june and is a unique collaboration between two Dutch museums to surprise art lovers from both home and abroad with surrealistic masterpieces this summer.

Public transport will take you from the Museumplein in Amsterdam to the Cobra Museum in Amstelveen within 25 minutes. You can take the red Conexxion buses from Museumplein, Leidseplein or Station Zuid, Schiphol or Station Arena. You can take tram 5 From Leidseplein, Museumplein or Olympiaplein in Amsterdam or take the bicycle! Take the direct short route which takes more or less a half hour or take the beautiful detour via the River Amstel or via the Amsterdam woods. Watch our cultural bicycletour which will be offererd by MacBike and YellowBike rentals.

Man Ray, Lenigme dÍsidore Ducasse 1920 Collection Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen © Pictoright Amsterdam 2020

Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in transit

Since May 2019, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam has been closed for major renovation and renewal. The museum is expected to open its doors again in 2026. While the museum is in transit, the public will not have to miss its world-famous art collection.

With one of the top three international art collections in the Netherlands (with more than 151,000 works), the museum has played a leading role in the Dutch art scene for 170 years. From Bosch, Rembrandt and Van Gogh to Dalí and Dutch Design, and from the Middle Ages to the present. The world-famous Rotterdam art collection travels the world during the transit years, meeting art lovers worldwide. But before ‘the surrealists’ start their tour, they can be seen in the Cobra Museum in Amstelveen this summer.


Collectie Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen© Pictoright Amsterdam 2020

Would you like to discover more surrealistic artworks?

Did you become curious about the pieces we were unable to show you because of all the corona measures now that you have seen the This is Surrealism! exhibition? Then we invite you to visit the ‘Online Collection’ of Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen ( or buy the richly illustrated catalogue ‘A Dream Collection. Surrealism in Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen’ in the museum shop or Boijmans webshop (€ 34.95).

Visiting the museum in times of corona:
The exhibition This is Surrealism! The Boijmans Masterpieces can be seen seven days a week until 27 September, so all summer long. A free audio tour has been made by master in the art of life and contemporary surrealist Aynouk Tan. Guides from both the Cobra Museum and Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen are constantly present in the galleries to provide further information about the works of art. For the sake of safety, walking routes are indicated via a sophisticated dot pattern. Entrance tickets can be purchased online in advance via the Cobra Museum website.

Reserve your ticket in advance online!

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