Black figuration, Surrealism is 100, Tonita Peña’s Eagle Dance mural

The exhibition The Time Is Always Now, featuring 22 artists from the African diaspora whose work takes the Black figure as its starting point, is now open at the National Portrait Gallery in London, and will tour to Philadelphia later in the year. We explore the show with its curator Ekow Eshun. 2024 marks the centenary of the the first Surrealist manifesto by André Breton, and the first of a series of exhibitions focusing on the movement this year opened at the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium in Brussels this week, before travelling to the Centre Pompidou later in the year and Hamburg, Madrid and Philadelphia (again) next year. But what did that first manifesto contain and how did it influence the course of the movement? Alyce Mahon, a Surrealism specialist and professor of Modern and Contemporary Art at the University of Cambridge, tells us more. And this episode’s Work of the Week is Eagle Dance (1934) by Tonita Peña, one of the leading Native American Pueblo artists of the 20th century. It features in a new exhibition, Native American Art of the 20th Century: The William P. Healey Collection, at the Saint Louis Art Museum in the US. Alexander Brier Marr, the associate curator of Native American art at the museum, joins us to discuss the painting.

The Time Is Always Now: Artists Reframe the Black Figure, National Portrait Gallery, London, 22 February-19 May; The Box, Plymouth, UK, 29 June-29 September; Philadelphia Museum of Art, 9 November-9 February 2025.

Alyce Mahon is the co-editor of a new International Journal of Surrealism, published by Minnesota University Press; Dorothea Tanning: A Surrealist World, by Alyce Mahon, Yale University Press, published in September. IMAGINE! 100 Years of International Surrealism, Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, Brussels, 21 February-21 July; Centre Pompidou, Paris, 4 September-13 January 2025; Fundación MAPFRE, Madrid, 4 February–11 May 2025; Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg, Germany, 12 June 2025-12 October 2025; Philadelphia Museum of Art, US, autumn 2025–spring 2026.

Native American Art of the 20th Century: The William P. Healey Collection, Saint Louis Art Museum, US, until 14 July.

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