A Return to Surrealism

A Return to Surrealism

Kenny Jensen Blog Post #11


Rediscovering New Old Art

With this post I would like to highlight a recent life shaping museum experience – one that has unexpectedly stuck with me and is effecting my current art practice. In the spring of 2018 we visited my wife’s brother in Madison Wisconsin (which also has a fantastic contemporary art museum) and then spent a few days as in Chicago. I have been there over a dozen times and have visited The Art Institute of Chicago a half dozen times. However, this was my first time seeing the newish modern/contemporary art wing. The collection of modern paintings and sculptures on view is incredible. In was particularity drawn to the extensive Surrealist era painting collection. Many of the works by artists I knew, like Dali, Duchamp, Miro, Magritte, and a few of the artists I had never seen in person before. I was especially drawn to the wonderfully bizarre paintings by Roberto Matte, Max Ernst and Yves Tanguy.

While searching through older backup photo archive folders to find images for these blogs, I came across the iPhone pics I took in the museum that day (I have included several below). It kicked off an hours long internet frenzy to learn more about these artists and find as many examples of their works as possible. It was an inspiring and rewarding deep dive investigation. Growing up, I had little exposure to the broader history of art (especially anything contemporary art) in my small Christian private school education. I was however exposed to some of the more well knows surrealists, I visited the Dali museum multiple times in the 80s and 90s and It left a deep impression on me. Most of which was left behind once I entered college and beyond. But seeing these particular paintings as a 40yr old brought me back to a pre-conceptual / pre-academic approach to art making that felt fresh, exciting, and fun. Enjoy!

I didn’t know I loved Miro until I saw these two paintings. So delightful! I love the forms and the coloring.


This is such an amazing Dali!


This is the first painting by Matta I have seen. It is huge, epic and devastating to experience in person.


I was only peripherally aware of Max Ernst and his mad genius until recently… His paintings are very exciting and inspiring to me at this moment.



Prior to seeing this incredible painting/installation I had never heard of Yves Tanguy. Now I am obsessed. He is my new favorite!




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