Surrealism. Le Grand Jeu


This transhistorical show, the first thematic exhibition devoted to Surrealism at MCBA since 1987, examines the unprecedented relevance today of this major movement in the history of art. Surrealism, a young centenarian, hasn’t aged one bit.

The year 2024 marks the centennial of the first Surrealist manifesto, which indeed saw print in 1924 and spawned one of the major artistic revolutions of the 20th century. In this context, the Musée cantonal des Beaux-Arts of Lausanne presents its first thematic exhibition devoted to Surrealism since 1987 and examines its unprecedented topicality through the lens of play.

Initially present as an informal activity cementing sociability amongst members of the Surrealist movement, play crystalised the birth of a collective mindset defined by a reversal of traditional values, putting old rules in the dock while inventing new ways of making art.

Bringing together over sixty historical and contemporary artists, the show borrows its title from a review published in the late 1920s by a splinter group of young French Surrealists who refused to rally behind André Breton. This conflict was symptomatic of the movement, which fractured and reconfigured itself according to the passions, frictions, and friendships of the moment, making each artist by turns an adherent and a rebel.

The first floor features the historical section of the exhibition and looks at multiple aspects of play, both recreational and subversive or critical. It shows the extent to which play formed a way of being in the world and a means of negotiating between reality and imagination, the communicable and the incommunicable. Play is a space of liberty bound by certain constraints, and within that particular space, the exhibition highlights the creative exaltation harnessed by the Surrealists.

The show continues on the second floor with a series of invitations to artists of our day and age to carry on the burst of creative energies that characterised the Surrealists’ anarchistic spirit. It was that spirit that upended our way of visualising and conceptualising the body, language, and objects in their infinite capacity to be transformed. And although Surrealism proclaimed itself revolutionary, the movement gradually spread throughout society to the point of making its way into our everyday vocabulary. Seen with our eyes today, Surrealism endlessly questions our imagination and its depictions.

Exhibition Curators: Juri Steiner, Director, MCBA, Pierre-Henri Foulon, Curator of Contemporary Art, MCBA, assisted by Paolo Baggi, external scientific collaborator and Eleonora Del Duca, scientific collaborator, MCBA

Exhibition guide
Credits and image caption:
Marion Adnams, "Emperor Moths/Thunder On the Left", 1963. Oil on Board, 56×45 cm. © RAW Collection

Featuring works by

over 60 historical and contemporary artists

Flora Acker
Marion Adnams
Rachel Baes
Hans Bellmer
Denise Bellon
Victor Brauner
André Breton
Claude Cahun
Nicolas Calas
Leonora Carrington
René Clair
Ithell Colquhoun
Salvador Dalí
René Daumal
Lise Deharme
Maya Deren
Marcel Duchamp
Suzanne Duchamp
Marcel Duhamel
Germaine Dulac
Nush Eluard
Paul Eluard
Max Ernst
Leonor Fini
Esteban Frances
Wilhelm Freddie
Alberto Giacometti
Jane Graverol
Henriette Grindat
Vitaly Halberstadt
Artür Harfaux
Gladys Hynes
Maurice Henry
Jacques Herold
Violette Herold
Georges Hugnet
Valentine Hugo
Max Jacob
Wifredo Lam
Willard Maas
René Magritte
Marcel Mariën
Henri Martinie
Pierre Molinier
Max von Moos
Max Morise
Meret Oppenheim
Benjamin Péret
Gisèle Prassinos
Mario Prassinos
Man Ray
Hans Richter
Robert Rius
Friedrich Schröder-Sonnenstern
Sonja Sekula
Kurt Seligmann
Joseph Sima
Yves Tanguy
Dorothea Tanning
Raoul Ubac
Remedios Varo
Marie Vassilieff
Irène Zurkinden
Unica Zürn
Tristan Bartolini
Gorge Bataille
Matthias Garcia
Maelle Gross
Anne Le Troter
Charlie Malgat
Lou Masduraud
Jakob Rowlinson

All rights reserved. Reproduction and any use of the works other than for individual and private consultation is prohibited without the express permission of ProLitteris.


Surrealism. Le Grand Jeu

Pierre-Henri Foulon, Juri Steiner (ed.), Surrealism. Le Grand Jeu, with texts by Paolo Baggi, Gorge Bataille, Boris Bergmann, Pierre-Henri Foulon, Susan Laxton and Juri Steiner, (FR), 112 p., Musée cantonal des Beaux-Arts de Lausanne & Scheidegger&Spiess, Zürich, 2024

CHF 29.-


Surrealist Season

Plateforme 10 celebrates the 100th anniversary of Surrealism

In 2024, the three museums of Plateforme 10, the MCBA, Photo Elysée, and the mudac are coming together for an exceptional Surrealist Season.


With the support of

The Surrealist Season is supported by the Loterie Romande and the Fondation Leenaards, partner of the Resonances project, which brings together the three museums through thematic commissions to artists from the local area.