Friday October 17, 2014
Tags for: Forbidden Games: Surrealist and Modernist Photography Opens October 19
  • Press Release

Forbidden Games: Surrealist and Modernist Photography Opens October 19

exterior of the CMA building

Private collection photographs from 1920s to 1940s bypass conventions, experiment with processes materials, subjects

CLEVELAND (October 2014) – The Cleveland Museum of Art presents Forbidden Games: Surrealist and Modernist Photography, a fascinatingly varied group of over 160 surrealist and modernist photographs from the 1920s through the 1940s. The exhibition and accompanying catalogue of the extraordinary vintage prints, acquired by the museum in 2007-2008 from the renowned collection of filmmaker David Raymond, represent the collection’s first appearance in print or at a museum. The exhibition will also include six short films and two books. Forbidden Games will be on view at the Cleveland Museum of Art from October 19, 2014, through January 11, 2015. Admission to this exhibition is free.

“We are proud to celebrate this important acquisition with the first in-depth examination of a segment of our increasingly important collection of photography,” said Dr. William M. Griswold, museum director. “David Raymond is a judicious and passionate collector who assembled his collection with astute judgment and connoisseurship, seeking out works that reflect l’oeil à l’état sauvage – the eye in its wild state, a tenet of surrealism supplied by André Breton, founder of the first surrealist group in Paris.”

Beginning in the 1990s, Raymond assembled works of both surrealism and modernism, two usually opposing movements that share a desire to bypass conventions about composition and content to experiment with new processes, materials and subject matter. His holdings were distinguished by their quality, breadth and rarity of subject matter.

Vertiginous camera angles, odd croppings and exaggerated tones and perspectives are hallmarks of both surrealism and modernism. As with surrealist efforts in other media, artists making photographs also aimed to explore the irrational and the chance encounter – magic and the mundane – filtered through the unconscious defined by Sigmund Freud. Eventually, photography became a pre-eminent tool of surrealist visual culture.

Photographs by 68 artists from 14 countries in the Americas and Europe, representing diverse artistic pathways and divergent attitudes toward photography, come together in the collection. It includes works by notable artists such as Hans Bellmer, Ilse Bing, Bill Brandt, Manuel Álvarez Bravo, Brassaï, Marcel Duchamp, Germaine Krull, László Moholy-Nagy, René Magritte, Man Ray and Alexander Rodchenko as well as numerous rare examples of equally provocative but less well-known photographers. Special highlights are bodies of work by Georges Hugnet, Marcel G. Lefrancq and 23 photographs by Dora Maar, one of the largest holdings of her work in a public collection.

“The Cleveland Museum of Art made a major, transformative acquisition by procuring the David Raymond collection, one of the most important holdings of twentieth-century surrealist photography that remained in private hands,” said Barbara Tannenbaum, the museum’s curator of photography. “Forbidden Games offers the public its first chance to view Raymond’s collection and through it, to vicariously experience an exhilarating, sometimes harrowing period of revolutionary social and cultural change.”

Forbidden Games is accompanied by a 240-page catalogue by Tom Hinson, curator emeritus, who tells the story of how the collection came to the museum and discusses the philosophy and the psychology behind Raymond’s collecting style; photo historian Ian Walker of the University of South Wales, who sets the photographs into historical and historiographic contexts; and independent curator Lisa Kurzner, who delves into topics of special interest ranging from examinations of techniques such as photograms and photo collage to explications of the symbolism of the mannequin and biographical studies of Maar and Hugnet. The catalogue, distributed by Yale University Press, is available for purchase at the museum or online: (Hard cover/$39.95, soft cover/$29.95.)

This exhibition is supported by a grant from the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation and was developed in part through the generosity of Mark Schwartz and Bettina Katz. The Cleveland Museum of Art is generously funded by Cuyahoga County residents through Cuyahoga Arts and Culture. The Ohio Arts Council helped fund this exhibition with state tax dollars to encourage economic growth, educational excellence, and cultural enrichment for all Ohioans.

Related Programming
Forbidden Games: Surrealist and Modernist Photography is accompanied by related programming. For more information and updates, please refer to

Lectures and Gallery Talks:
In Conversation: Forbidden Games
Wednesday, October 29, 6:00 p.m.
Depart from the information desk in the Ames Family Atrium.
With Curator of Photography Barbara Tannenbaum and independent curator and art historian Lisa Kurzner, discover the story of a collector’s vision and of a radical moment in history in this tour of Forbidden Games: Surrealist and Modernist Photography.

Author Talk: Francine Prose
Sunday, November 2, 2:00 p.m., Gartner Auditorium.
Free; reservations strongly recommended.
Explore relationships between art and literature with author Francine Prose, who will discuss the photographer Brassaï’s influence on her latest novel, Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932. Brassaï’s photographs of Parisian nightlife, featured in the exhibition Forbidden Games: Surrealist and Modernist Photography, and on view in gallery 225, inspired Prose to explore the city’s jazz clubs and subcultures to create the story of athlete and scandalous crossdressing lesbian Lou Villars. Prose is the author of twenty works of fiction, including A Changed Man, winner of the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, and Blue Angel, a finalist for the National Book Award. She is a former president of PEN American Center and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. A book signing will follow the talk. Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932 is available for purchase in the museum store.

From Cleveland to Cleveland via Paris
Saturday, November 8, 11:00 a.m., Recital Hall.
The very first exhibition devoted to Surrealist photography was staged in Cleveland in 1979. The subject now returns here in Forbidden Games. British photohistorian Ian Walker, a contributor to the show’s catalogue, will address the complex, sometimes contradictory views of Surrealist photography that have arisen in the intervening thirty-five years. He will also examine the range of ways in which the Surrealists photographed Paris, the paramount Surrealist city, from the center to the periphery, and the different methods through which those images were exhibited and published.

Guided Tours:
Forbidden Games: Surrealist and Modernist Photography
Depart from the information desk in the Ames Family Atrium.
November and December. Tuesday at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., Wednesday–Sunday at 2 p.m.

MIX: Couture
Friday, November 7, 5–9:00 p.m.
Featuring Made Surreal—A Surrealist Design Competition, 7:30 p.m.
Tickets $8 ($10 day of event); Members free. Experience a runway show featuring Surrealist-inspired designs as you meet your friends, grab a drink, and dive into the wild world of the subconscious. In celebration of the exhibition, Made Surreal finalists will present their inner mind-revealing couture for the MIX crowd and for a special panel of judges including: David Raymond, art collector and filmmaker; Doris Raymond, vintage clothing guru and owner of Los Angeles vintage store The Way We Wore (featured in the Smithsonian Channel hit L.A. Frock Stars); Jean Druesedow, director of the Kent State University Museum; and Barbara Tannenbaum, curator of photography at the Cleveland Museum of Art. Let the vintage photography of Forbidden Games be your fashion inspiration and come dressed in your favorite black and white.

David Raymond is more than a prominent photography collector and dealer; he has also produced some acclaimed independent films. All are Cleveland theatrical premieres.

David Raymond in Person!
Restless City
Wednesday, November 5, 7:00 p.m.
Directed by Andrew Dosunmu. In this vivid portrait of New York’s pan-African community, a Senegalese immigrant living on the fringes of NYC looks for work but dreams of making music. David Raymond will answer audience questions after the screening. (USA, 2011, subtitles, 80 min.) Preceded at 7:00 p.m. by Raymond’s own five-minute short “The Leaf” (USA, 2012.)

Wednesday, November 12, 7:00 p.m.
Directed by Ron Morales. The driver for a corrupt Filipino congressman must rescue his daughter from kidnappers in this taut, twisty thriller that exposes Manila’s childtrafficking underworld. Adults only! (Philippines, 2012, subtitles, 84 min.)

2014 Holiday Film Festival: The Persistence of Surrealism
December 26–31, 1:30 p.m. These shows are for adults only.
Essential classics from nine decades of Surrealist cinema, shown in Morley Lecture Hall (unless noted). Each program $9; CMA members, seniors 65 & over, students $7; or one CMA Film Series voucher.

The Blood of a Poet
Friday, December 26, 1:30 p.m.
Directed by Jean Cocteau. The inner life of a poet/artist is vividly manifested on screen in Cocteau’s dreamy, experimental, visually stunning first film (France, 1932, subtitles, black and white, 35 mm, 55 min.). Program begins at 1:30 with Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí’s 20-min. Un Chien Andalou (France, 1929), the most famous (and shocking) of all Surrealist films.

Dreams That Money Can Buy
Saturday, December 27, 1:30 p.m., Recital Hall.
Directed by Hans Richter. This experimental narrative feature about a man who can create and sell dreams incorporates fantastic sequences by a who’s who of Surrealist/ Dadaist artists: Max Ernst, Fernand Léger, Man Ray, Marcel Duchamp, Alexander Calder, and Richter himself. Music by John Cage, Darius Milhaud, Paul Bowles, and others (USA, 1947, color, 16 mm, 99 min.)

Sunday, December 28, 1:30 p.m.
Directed by Vera Chytilová. Two bored young women thumb their noses at modern consumer society in this anarchic, visually inventive masterpiece of the Czech New Wave—a Dada movie that leaves viewers gaga (Czechoslovakia, 1966, subtitles, color, 35 mm, 76 min.) Program begins at 1:30 with Jan Švankmajer’s 17-min. animated short Food (Czech Republic, 1992.)

Mulholland Dr.
Tuesday, December 30, 1:30 p.m.
With Naomi Watts and Laura Elena Harring. Voted best film of the 2000s in three separate critics’ polls, David Lynch’s mysterious, menacing, mesmerizing tale of two young actresses in contemporary Hollywood takes as many twists and turns as the eponymous road (France/USA, 2001, color, 35 mm, 147 min.)

Holy Motors
Wednesday, December 31, 1:30 p.m.
Directed by Leos Carax. With Denis Lavant, Edith Scob, and Eva Mendes. This rapturous valentine to the movies tells of a mysterious French businessman in a stretch limo who dons different disguises for a surreal series of theatrical “appointments” around Paris (France/Germany, 2012, subtitles, color, Blu-ray, 115 min.)

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