Exhibition: ‘Forbidden Games: Surrealist and Modernist Photography’ at the Cleveland Museum of Art

Exhibition dates: 19th October 2014 – 11th January 2015

The Kelvin and Eleanor Smith Foundation Exhibition Hall



Anton Stankowski (German, 1906-1998) 'Photo Eye' (Foto-Auge) 1927, printed 1938-40


Anton Stankowski (German, 1906-1998)
Photo Eye (Foto-Auge)
1927, printed 1938-1940
Gelatin silver print, montage, from negatives with handwork
10.9 x 14.5cm
The Cleveland Museum of Art, John L. Severance Fund
© Stankowski-Stiftung



Love this period in photographic history and this type of work, love them all. Dora Maar your a star!


Many thankx to the Cleveland Museum of Art for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.



“Often wild and recalcitrant, the images presented in Forbidden Games have been somewhat bridled by the curators who present them in broadly structured theme-based spaces. These categories include Advertising and the Picture Magazine, Collage, City, Natural World, Body, Mannequin, Night Life, and Abstraction. The curatorial rubrics guide the visitor through the exhibition and ease the appreciation of “the eye in its wild state” (l’oeil à l’état sauvage), the museum’s declared leitmotif for the show. Three additional spaces highlight the work of individual artists Marcel Lefranq (1916-1974), Georges Hugnet (1906-1974), and Dora Maar (1907-1997) …

It is not difficult to engage in a personal way with a number of photographs in this exhibition. In sharp contrast to the monumental scale of many late twentieth-century and millennial museum photographs, which often seem designed to engulf and visually overwhelm the viewer, these comparatively ‘small scale’ works radiate a quiet integrity often lacking in the former. The photographs on view are powerful, yet neither dominate the room nor repel the viewer. Instead, and refreshingly so, they are the whispered testimonial of artists who practiced unhurried looking and seeing. These images must be approached without haste; only then, do they yield their subtle beauty and secrets.”

Julie Nero, from her excellent review “Forbidden Games: Surrealist and Modern Photography” on the ArtHopper website [Online] Cited 02/01/2015. No longer available online



Jacques-Henri Lartigue (French, 1894-1986) 'The Crystal Ball' (La Boule de Verre) 1931


Jacques-Henri Lartigue (French, 1894-1986)
The Crystal Ball (La Boule de Verre)
Gelatin silver print, toned
23.7 x 29.9cm
The Cleveland Museum of Art, John L. Severance Fund
© Ministère de la Culture – France / AAJHL


Raoul Ubac (Belgian, 1910-1985) 'The Battle of the Penthesilea' (Le Combat des Penthésiliées) 1937


Raoul Ubac (Belgian, 1910-1985)
The Battle of the Penthesilea (Le Combat des Penthésiliées)
Gelatin silver print
16.9 x 22.8cm
The Cleveland Museum of Art, John L. Severance Fund
© 2013 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris



Man Ray
Emak Bakia



Photo of collector, David Raymond
Photo credit: Elena Dorfman



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.

Through 167 photographs and illustrated books, the Raymond collection tells two stories: one of a radical moment in early twentieth-century art and the other of an impassioned collector whose adventurous spirit and vision harmonised perfectly with his subject. Beginning in the 1990s, art collector and filmmaker David Raymond judiciously sought out vintage prints from the 1920s through the 1940s that reflect “the eye in its wild state” (l’oeil a l’état sauvage), remaining true to the spirit of André Breton, a founder of surrealism. Raymond’s holdings of surrealist and modernist photography were distinguished by their quality, breadth, and rarity of subject matter. In 2007, the Cleveland Museum of Art made a major, transformative acquisition by procuring that collection, one of the most important holdings of twentieth-century surrealist photography that remained in private hands.

Vertiginous camera angles, odd croppings, and exaggerated tones and perspectives are hallmarks of the two principal photographic movements of the period, 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 preeminent tool of surrealist visual culture.

Artists from fourteen countries, representing diverse artistic pathways and divergent attitudes toward photography, come together in this collection. Many of the photographs reflect Parisian circles, with masterful works by Man Ray, Brassaï, Maurice Tabard, and Roger Parry. Soviet Russia is represented by Alexander Rodchenko and El Lissitzky; Germany by László Moholy-Nagy and Erwin Blumenfeld, among others. In addition to these notable artists, the collection features many photographers whose work is not as well known in the United States, including Horacio Coppola of Argentina, Emiel van Moerkerken of Holland, and Marcel-G. Lefrancq of Belgium. A highlight of the collection is a grouping of 23 works by Dora Maar, a female photographer with a strong voice in surrealist Paris.

“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.”

“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 (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.

Text from the Cleveland Museum of Art website


Raoul Ubac. 'Mannequin d'Andre Masson' 1938


Raoul Ubac (French, 1910-1985)
Mannequin d’Andre Masson



Photographed by Raoul Ubac, André Masson’s Mannequin (1938) was one of sixteen artist-decorated dress-shop dummies on view at the 1938 Paris Exposition Internationale du Surréalisme. Probably the most well-known mannequin of the infamous installation, the head of Masson’s dummy is framed in a wicker bird-cage. Nearby, in the same area devoted to the “Mannequin,” a theme addressed ubiquitously in countless surrealist works, Hans Bellmer’s dismembered Poupée (1936) is on view. While both works symbolically objectify and victimise the female ‘body,’ Bellmer’s disturbing Poupée, unlike Masson’s somewhat playful Mannequin, darkly insinuates sexual torture and murder.

Text by Julie Nero


Erwin Blumenfeld. 'Boxers over New York' 1920


Erwin Blumenfeld (American, 1897-1969)
Boxers over New York



A 1920 photo-collage of boxers fighting over New York, an aerial shot of the city overlaid with silver print cut-outs of Jack Johnson and Jim Jeffries, the Great White Hope, duking it out like gods in the sky. It was made by Erwin Blumenfeld, who signed the work Blumenfeldada. (Many of these artists cut and pasted their names as readily as they cut and pasted images.)

Text by Sarah Boxer (NY Times)


François Kollar (Slovak, 1904-1979) 'Wood-Milne' 1930


François Kollar (Slovak, 1904-1979)
Gelatin silver print, montage
37.5 x 28.1cm
The Cleveland Museum of Art, John L. Severance Fund
© Ministère de la Culture / Médiathèque du Patrimoine, Dist. RMN


Edward Quigley (American, 1898-1977) 'Photogram (Number 9)' 1931


Edward Quigley (American, 1898-1977)
Photogram (Number 9)
Gelatin silver print, photogram
20.7 x 16.6cm
The Cleveland Museum of Art, John L. Severance Fund


Thurman Rotan (American, 1903-1991) 'New York Montage' 1928


Thurman Rotan (American, 1903-1991)
New York Montage
Gelatin silver print, montage
11.5 x 8.2cm
The Cleveland Museum of Art, John L. Severance Fund


Dora Maar (French, 1907-1997) 'Double Portrait with Hat' c. 1936-37


Dora Maar (French, 1907-1997)
Double Portrait with Hat
c. 1936-37
Gelatin silver print, montage, from negatives with handwork
29.7 x 23.8cm
The Cleveland Museum of Art, Gift of David Raymond
© 2013 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP



In Double Portrait with Hat(1936-37), Dora Maar radically altered and reconfigured photographic materials to generate an image. In her quietly gripping self-portrait, Maar cut and scraped directly into two negatives to create a heavy and forbidding halo above a torn and divided self. Works such as these… explore the formal definition and limits of photographic ‘content’ and anticipate the experiments of non-narrative filmmakers Stan Brakhage and Jonas Mekas of the 1960s and 1970s.

Text by Julie Nero


Dora Maar (French, 1907-1997) 'Mendiant aveugle' (Blind Beggar) 1934


Dora Maar (French, 1907-1997)
Mendiant aveugle (Blind Beggar)
Vintage gelatin silver print
30 x 23.9cm



The Second Spanish Republic fascinated many of the photographers active in the international context during the first half of the 20th century, such as Henri Cartier-Bresson, Man Ray and Dora Maar. The latter travelled to Barcelona in the summer of 1933; there, imbued with the spirit of the flâneur (Baudelaire’s stroller looking for chance encounters), she wandered through the city taking photographs of anonymous characters. In Mendiant aveugle (Blind Beggar), Dora Maar felt drawn to blindness, a motif that had been recurrent in photography from its very beginnings, because of the paradox of capturing the image of someone who cannot see. Dora Maar plays a game that is both conceptual and aesthetic, by combining elements that seek symbolic efficacy, in harmony with the interests of Surrealism: the subject’s open eyes, which preserve the gesture of seeing but not the sense of sight, the mysterious wrapped object the beggar is holding in his lap (probably a stringed instrument) and the lowered metallic blinds that serve as a backdrop to the character’s drama. This image is evidence of the affinity that Dora Maar felt with the surrealist group; in the opinion of its early theorists, André Breton and Paul Éluard, artists should “train one’s eyes by closing them” in order to shape their gaze and direct it towards the alternative reality associated with the unconscious mind.

Text by Almudena Cruz Yábar


Dora Maar (French, 1907-1997) 'Jeux interdits' (Forbidden Games) 1935


Dora Maar (French, 1907-1997)
Jeux interdits (Forbidden Games)


Brassaï (French, 1899-1984) 'Young Couple Wearing a Two-in-One Suit at the Bal de la Montagne Sainte-Geneviève' 1931


Brassaï (French, 1899-1984)
Young Couple Wearing a Two-in-One Suit at the Bal de la Montagne Sainte-Geneviève
Gelatin silver print, ferrotyped
29.8 x 22cm
The Cleveland Museum of Art, John L. Severance Fund
© The Brassaï Estate – RMN


Georges Hugnet (French, 1906-1974) 'The Architect of Magus' 1935


Georges Hugnet (French, 1906-1974)
The Architect of Magus
Collage; photomechanical reproductions on drawing (graphite, watercolour, black pen, and ink)
31.3 x 22.7cm
The Cleveland Museum of Art, John L. Severance Fund
© 2013 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris


Hans Bellmer (German, 1902-1975) 'The Doll' (La Poupée) 1936


Hans Bellmer (German, 1902-1975)
The Doll (La Poupée)
Gelatin silver print
11.7 x 7.8 cm
The Cleveland Museum of Art,  John L. Severance Fund
© 2013 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris



Cleveland Museum of Art
11150 East Boulevard
Cleveland, Ohio 44106

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Wednesdays, Fridays 10.00am – 9.00pm
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Cleveland Museum of Art website


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Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His art work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes Art Blart, an art and cultural memory archive, which posts mainly photography exhibitions from around the world. He holds a Doctor of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne, a Master of Arts (Fine Art Photography) from RMIT University, and a Master of Art Curatorship from the University of Melbourne.

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