National Gallery of Modern Art to show rare publications that helped lay the roots of Surrealism


Rare copies of publications by revolutionary writers and artists William Blake, Lewis Carroll and the Marquis de Sade will go on show at Modern Two this spring.

The works are part of a new display exploring the roots of the ground-breaking Surrealist movement.

Surreal Roots: From William Blake to André Breton will combine 18th and 19th century publications, rarely shown to the public, with 20th century publications by key Surrealist figures such as Salvador Dalí.

William Blake, The Night of Enitharmon’s Joy 1795


The Marquis de Sade, Blake and Carroll were controversial figures whose writings challenged the religious and sexual taboos of their time.

Surrealism started in the 1920s in Paris, led by the French writer André Breton.

The movement included artists Salvador Dalí and Rene Magritte, and was partly characterised by the scepticism of the generation that experienced the First World War.

Surrealists drew on Freud’s work with psychoanalysis, specifically his theory that our memories and most basic instincts are stored in a layer of the human mind he called the unconscious, and looked to explore these through writing and art.

Simon Groom, Director of the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, said: “Surreal Roots will showcase some of the highlights of our special books collection.”