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Whitney Museum of American Art Opens Real / Surreal an Exhibition Exploring Twentieth Century American Art

The Whitney Museum of American Art Presents Real / Surreal a new exhibition on view October 6, 2011-February 12, 2012.

The permeable boundary between the real and the imagined is the subject of Real/Surreal, opening this fall at the Whitney Museum of American Art. A close look at the interconnection between two of the strongest currents in twentieth-century American art, the exhibition includes eighty paintings, drawings, photographs, and prints made in the years before, during, and immediately after the Second World War by such artists as Paul Cadmus, Federico Castellón, Ralston Crawford, Mabel Dwight, Jared French, Louis Guglielmi, Edward Hopper, Man Ray, Kay Sage, George Tooker, Grant Wood, and Andrew Wyeth. Organized by Whitney curator Carter Foster.

George Tooker, 1920 – 2011, The Subway, 1950, Egg tempera on composition board, Sight: 18 1/8 x 36 1/8 in. (46.04 x 91.76 cm), Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase, with funds from the Juliana Force Purchase Award 50.23, Photography by Sheldan Collins

This exhibition, the second in a series of shows reexamining the Museum’s collection chronologically from its earliest days to the present, focuses on the tension and overlap between realism and Surrealism. Although the term “realism” has many facets, a basic connection to the observable world underlies all of them; the subversion of reality through the imagination and the subconscious lies at the heart of Surrealism. Surrealism was a liberating force which allowed for all manner of fantastic, unreal imagery, but it also greatly influenced how artists perceived and represented reality. Those who absorbed its ideas learned to invest objects and spaces with symbolic power, making them representative of psychic states, moods, and subconscious impulses. They favored narrative ambiguity over explicitness, intentionally allowing viewers to project their own subjectivity onto the work, so that the viewer’s imagination, and the artist’s, could intertwine.

The Whitney Museum of American Art is the world’s leading museum of twentieth-century and contemporary art of the United States. Focusing particularly on works by living artists, the Whitney is celebrated for presenting important exhibitions and for its renowned collection, which comprises over 19,000 works by more than 2,900 artists. With a history of exhibiting the most promising and influential artists and provoking intense debate, the Whitney Biennial, the Museum’s signature exhibition, has become the most important survey of the state of contemporary art in the United States. In addition to its landmark exhibitions, the Museum is known internationally for events and educational programs of exceptional significance and as a center for research, scholarship, and conservation.

The Whitney Museum is located at 945 Madison Avenue at 75th Street, New York City. Museum hours are: Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Friday from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m., closed Monday and Tuesday. General admission: $18. Full-time students and visitors ages 19–25 and 62 & over: $12. Visitors 18 & under and Whitney members: FREE. Admission to the Kaufman Astoria Studios Film & Video Gallery only: $6. Admission is pay-what-you-wish on Fridays, 6–9 p.m. For general information, please call (212) 570-3600 or visit

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