The Cantor Arts Center presents
The Conjured Life: The Legacy of Surrealism, an exhibition tracing the movement’s lineage from historic masters to today’s practitioners

The Conjured Life: The Legacy of Surrealism

December 21, 2016–April 3, 2017

Stanford, CA—The Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University is pleased to open The Conjured Life: The Legacy of Surrealism, an extraordinary exhibition set to chronicle the mesmerizing and unsettling nature of the Surrealist movement from historic master artists like René Magritte and Marcel Duchamp to today’s artistic superstars, including Cindy Sherman, Jimmie Durham, and David Lynch. Having originated at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, the show’s cross-historical approach, for which the Cantor is renowned, enables viewers to witness Surrealism’s lasting impact on contemporary artistic practices.

“I’m thrilled to bring this exhibition to Stanford and to the Bay Area,” said Alison Gass, Chief Curator and Associate Director for Exhibitions and Collections at the Cantor. “In our presentation, the incredibly rich trove of works from the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago combines with additions from both the Cantor’s permanent collection and rare materials form Stanford’s Special Collections libraries to offer a fresh investigation of Surrealism.”


The Conjured Life: The Legacy of Surrealism charts the travel of surrealist ideas and imagery as the movement evolved and expanded over the course of the 20th century. Surrealist works like Magritte’s Les merveilles de la nature (1953) and Paul Delvaux’s Penelope (1945) challenge traditional categories of experience, especially the distinction between reality and dream. Enrico Baj’s Le General Mechant et Decore (1961), shadow boxes by Joseph Cornell, and Willie Cole’s Heal and Rest (1992) reveal a surrealist interest in unconventional art-making techniques, including collage, assemblage, and photomontage. Works by Jean Arp and Wolfgang Paalen’s Taches Solaire (1938) demonstrate the Surrealists’ ingenious use of automatic processes.


The Cantor’s Halperin Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, Jodi Roberts, commented, “This exhibition examines Surrealism’s international dissemination and stages intergenerational encounters between historical Surrealism and contemporary artists, highlighting the movement’s most generative concepts and techniques. Together, the works in A Conjured Life reveal how surrealist ideas evolved over time and remain a rich current within artistic practice.”


Exhibition Support

The Conjured Life: The Legacy of Surrealism is organized by the Cantor Arts Center, Stanford University. This presentation builds upon the exhibition Surrealism: The Conjured Life as organized by Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, drawing from its extensive Surrealism holdings. In Chicago the exhibition was organized by Curator Lynne Warren with generous support provided by The Pritzker Traubert Collection Exhibition Fund, Helen and Sam Zell, Carol and Douglas Cohen, Carolyn S. Bucksbaum, Anonymous, Betsy and Andrew Rosenfield, Richard and Ellen Sandor Family, and Mary E. Ittelson.


We gratefully acknowledge support of this presentation from The Loughlin Family Exhibition Fund, The Clumeck Endowment Fund, The Elizabeth Swindells Hulsey Exhibitions Fund, the Contemporary Collectors Circle, and museum members.


Cantor Arts Center
The Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University is a vital and dynamic institution with a venerable history. Founded in 1891 with the university, the historic museum was expanded and renamed in 1999 for lead donors Iris and B. Gerald Cantor. The Cantor’s encyclopedic collection spans 5,000 years, includes more than 45,000 artworks and beckons visitors to travel across the globe and through time: from Africa to the Americas to Asia, from classical antiquity to the present day. With 24 galleries presenting selections from the collection and more than 20 special exhibitions each year, the Cantor serves Stanford’s academic community, draws art lovers from the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond and attracts campus visitors from around the world. Free admission, free tours, lectures, family activities and temporary exhibitions make the Cantor one of the most well-attended university art museums in the country and a great resource for teaching and research on campus.


# # #

Visitor Information
The Cantor Arts Center is open six days a week, Wednesday–Monday, 11 a.m.–5 p.m., Thursday until 8 p.m.; closed Tuesday. Admission is free. The Cantor is located on the Stanford campus, off Palm Drive at Museum Way. Parking is free after 4 p.m. weekdays and all day on weekends and major holidays. Information: 650-723-4177,


Instagram: @cantorarts

Twitter: @CantorArts

Facebook: /CantorArtsCenter

Press Contact: Florie Hutchinson, 415-515-4696

René Magritte, Les merveilles de la nature (The Wonders of Nature), 1953. Oil on canvas. Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago MCA#1982.48, gift of Joseph and Jory Shapiro, © Rene Magritte/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago



Enrico Baj, Le General Mechant et Decore (Angry General with Decorations), 1961. Oil, fabric, G-string, beads, metal, ribbons, lace, metal string, colored glass, leather buttons, and medals. Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, gift of Joseph and Jory Shapiro



Francesca Woodman, House #4, Providence, Rhode Island, 1975-1976, 1975/76. Gelatin silver print. Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, gift from The Howard and Donna Stone Collection, © 1975-1976 Francesca Woodman