January 25, 2014 to April 27, 2014

, 1942. Tempera, oil, ink, and gesso on composition board, 175/16 × 41 inches. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Benno C. Schmidt in memory of Mr. Josiah Marvel, first owner of this picture 77.91 © Andrew Wyeth." />

This exhibition explores the interconnections between the real and the imagined in early modern American art, with an emphasis on Surrealism and Magic Realism. Real/Surreal will be on view in the museum's main galleries January 25, 2014 to April 27, 2014.

Real/Surreal is a circulating loan exhibition organized by the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. The exhibition includes paintings, drawings, and prints by Thomas Hart Benton, Charles Burchfield, Paul Cadmus, Philip Evergood, Jared French, Marsden Hartley, Edward Hopper, Man Ray, Charles Sheeler, George Tooker, John Wilde, and Grant Wood among others. MMoCA has added works from its own permanent collection, including a major watercolor by Andrew Wyeth and a significant painting by Marsden Hartley.

This exhibition was organized by the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. To date, support for the Wisconsin presentation has been provided by Mary Ellyn and Joe Sensenbrenner, Ellen S. Rosner and Paul J. Reckwerdt, JoAnne Robbins and David Falk, Nancy Doll and Michael Bernhard, Marv and Mildred Conney, James and Sylvia Vaccaro, Peggy and Thomas Pyle, Marvin Levy, Hooper Corporation/General Heating & Air Conditioning, The Steinhauer Charitable Trust, Deirdre Garton, McGladrey, the Webcrafters Frautschi Foundation, a grant from the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts, and MMoCA Volunteers.

related programming

Friday, January 24 · 6:30–7:30 pm
Curator to Curator: Making an Exhibition
Carter Foster and Rick Axsom will discuss curatorial decision-making in defining, honing, and installing a major traveling exhibition. As originating curator for Real/Surreal, Foster conceived of and selected works for the exhibition and was instrumental in designing its presentation at the WhitneyMuseum of Art. Rick Axsom has coordinated the installation at MMoCA, including the addition of works from the museum’s permanent collection. They will offer their perspectives on how curators from different institutions stage an exhibition and the considerations that inform curatorial practice.

Carter E. Foster is the Steven and Ann Ames Curator of Drawing at the Whitney Museum of American Art. Most recently, he has organized the Whitney’s major exhibition Hopper Drawing, devoted to the drawings and working process of Edward Hopper, and authored the accompanying catalogue. Rick Axsom is curator at MMoCA and professor emeritus of art history, University of Michigan. In addition to his curatorial work, he has published extensively in the area of modern and contemporary American prints. Curator to Curator: Making an Exhibition is a Lussier Family Lecture. Lecture hall. $10 MMoCA Nights admission.

Thursday, February 6 · 12:30–1 pm
Anna Andrzejewski on Surrealism and Landscapes
Anna Andrzejewski will examine the ways in which American artists of the 1920s and 1930s represented the changing landscape of modern America. Working under the impact of surrealism, American artists struggled to make sense of the numerous modern changes on the land, which ranged from the ceaselessly growing industrial sites (such as Ford's River Rouge manufacturing complex) to the drought-ridden landscapes of the midwest and dustbowl. The talk will consider how surrealism gave artists a tool through which they could express their varied and often mixed feelings about these rapidly changing landscapes. Anna Andrzejewski is professor of art history at the UW-Madison. Main galleries.

Thursday, February 20 · 12:30–1:15 pm
Richard H. Axsom on Edward Hopper’s Cape Cod Sunset and Andrew Wyeth’s “Winter Fields”
The human figure isolated in its setting is a recurring theme in the art of Edward Hopper and Andrew Wyeth, two artists who have an important place in the exhibition Real/Surreal. Settings act as foils to the inner states of Hopper’s and Wyeth’s subjects, who are often marked by introspection or alienation. MMoCA curator Richard Axsom discusses how these two master American artists could evoke isolation and introspection without including a human figure. In Hopper’s Cape Cod Sunset, for example, the subject is a house in the area of the artist’s summer retreat in Truro, Massachusetts; Wyeth’s is a dead crow in the rural landscape of the artist’s hometown of Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania. Adopting a metaphorical approach to inanimate objects in these two paintings—and in keeping with the essential character of their art—Hopper and Wyeth created poignant meditations on human loneliness and separation. Main galleries.

Friday, March 7 · 6:30– 7 pm
Michael Jay McClure on Under, In, On: The Topography of the Real
This talk aims to reposition Surrealism not just as an excavation of subconscious imagery, but as a movement seeking to expose the incongruity, and even menace, contiguous with the everyday. Instead of equating reality with normalcy, Surrealists redefined it as moments of shock where one’s sense of normalcy fails. Michael Jay McClure is assistant professor at UW-Madison where he teaches the history and theory of modern and contemporary art. Members free/$10 MMoCA Nights admission.

Friday, March 7 · 7:30–8:15 pm
Exquisite Poems and Parlor Games: An Evening of Poetry
In this special evening of poetry, members of the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets (WFoP) and Madison’s Poets Laureate will read original poems inspired by Real/Surreal, including collaborative works written using the Exquisite Corpse, a Surrealist parlor game and creative device. The reading is part of an MMoCA Nights celebration for Real/Surreal and The Mystery Beneath that also includes live music by Venice Gas House Trolley. $10 MMoCA Nights admission.


For Visitors
Learning Center
The Real/Surreal Learning Center offers adults and families a variety of resources for exploring its exhibitions. A range of children’s books, poetry and word-association games, a kid-friendly collaborative drawing experience, and other child-centered activities promote imaginative engagement with works of art. Monographs and documentary videos on featured artists are available for adults, who may also make a collaborative drawing using the Exquisite Corpse, a Surrealist parlor game and creative device. 

For Families
Real/Surreal Lets look Family Guide

Explore the real and the surreal by comparing Andrew Wyeth's painting, "Winter Fields," with Philip Evergood's painting, Lily and the SparrowsLet's look is an interactive family guide available in the Real/Surreal learning center.

For Teachers
Real/Surreal Teaching Pages
Teaching pages provide analysis of a selection of works of art on view at the exhibition, biographical information on featured artists, discussion questions, and links to additional resources. Effective as an introduction to a museum visit, the pages also are valuable as an ongoing classroom resource. Teaching pages on Andrew Wyeth and other artists in Real/Surreal are available for this exhibition.


Harold Edgerton

How Fast is Fast?
An excerpt from the 1994 film How Fast is Fast?, produced by MIT Video Productions for the Edgerton Foundation. The video introduces the viewer to artist, engineer, and educator Harold Edgerton and his lifelong devotion to high speed photography and film. 2:31 minutes. 

High Speed Photography: National Geographic Society Lecture
Assembled by Harold Edgerton for a 1965 National Geographic Society lecture, this black-and-white silent film features a series of high-speed photography demonstrations, including flying hummingbirds, light bulbs breaking, and a cat drinking milk. 11:20 minutes.

Joe Jones

Joe Jones: Painter of the American Scene
Produced for Saint LouisArt Museum’s 2010 exhibition, Joe Jones: Painter of the American Scene, this documentary chronicles the life of artist Joe Jones through historical photos, interviews with friends and family members, and comments by art historians and exhibition curator Andrew Walker. 16:19 minutes.

George Tooker

George Tooker, Parts One, Two, and Three
A documentary created in conjunction with Columbus Museum of Art’s 2009 exhibition George Tooker: A Retrospective. Artist George Tooker, curators, and art historians discuss his life and work. 22:41 minutes.