Everyday Dreams: Surrealist Art & Culture

This course will focus on the most influential 20th century art movement, Surrealism. In its quest to seek out the marvellous in the everyday, Surrealism did not restrict itself to being an art movement; on the contrary it was influential on, and heavily involved with a variety of visual cultures, ranging from film and photography to fashion and advertising. This course will explore these surrealist manifestations and will cover an international range of well-known and less famous Surrealist artists.

The course will include a curator-led guided tour of the exhibition Angels of Anarchy: Women Artists and Surrealism at Manchester Art Gallery. (Please note that the entrance fee for the exhibition is not included in the course fee).

The course will be led by Dr Patricia Allmer, curator of Angels of Anarchy, author of René Magritte: Beyond Painting, and Research Fellow at MIRIAD, Manchester Metropolitan University.

Beginners’ level – no prior knowledge required.

£60 full / £45 concessions

Booking now available online – – BUY TICKETS

The course will involve weekly readings followed by discussions of them.

Wed 7 Oct


This first session will give a historical overview of surrealism. We will then discuss what surrealism is, exploring André Breton’s first Manifesto of Surrealism (1924). For this, please could you read through the text which is available at:


You can either make notes on the text and bring them along – a hard copy of it will be provided during the first session, or print this text out and make notes directly onto the print-out. The latter will make it easier to identify the passages you’re commenting on.

Wed 14 Oct

Surrealism and the Everyday

This session will explore surrealist methods and techniques which are anchored in and focused on the experience of the everyday. A variety of methods such as collage, frottage and fumage will be discussed alongside the role of the surrealist found object.

Wed 21 Oct

Women artists and surrealism

This session will explore the role of women as both artists and muses in surrealist art. It will be accompanied by a curator-led tour of the Angels of Anarchy: Women Artists and Surrealism exhibition at Manchester Art Gallery.

Wed 28 Oct

Lee Miller’s surrealist eye

This session will explore surrealism and photography through the work of the American artist Lee Miller. It will focus on how the woman photographer could use surrealist methods to challenge the ways in which she was herself represented in photography.

Wed 4 Nov

SCREEning: Seashell and the clergman (1928)

Please note that this session will start at the usual time of 18:30.

Wed 11 Nov

Screening: Luis Buñuel Belle de jour (1967)

Wed 18 Nov

Fashion and Surrealism

In this session we will focus on the influence of the surrealists on fashion. It will look at the close collaborations between the surrealists and the fashion world and explore how contemporary fashion bears the traces of surrealism’s influence.

Wed 25 Nov


This session will revisit and summarise some of the key themes discussed throughout the course.


The course will involve a variety of weekly readings which will be handed out at the end of each session and discussed the following week.


Further Readings

There are a wide range of very interesting books on surrealism. The following are good complementary readings to the course:

  • Patricia Allmer Angels of Anarchy: Women Artists and Surrealism, Prestel, 2009.
  • Patricia Allmer Collective Inventions: Surrealism in Belgium, Leuven University Press, 2007.
  • Francoise Baudot, Fashion & Surrealism, Assouline, 2002.
  • Fiona Bradley, Surrealism, Tate Publishing, 1997.
  • André Breton Manifestoes of Surrealism, translated by H.R. Lane and R. Seaver, Ann Arbor Paperbacks, The University of Michigan Press, 1969.
  • Claude Cahun, Disavowals, introduction by Jennifer Mundy, translated by Susan De Muth, Tate Publishing, 2007
  • Mary Ann Caws Surrealism, Phaidon Press, 2004.
  • Matthew Gale, Dada and Surrealism, Phaidon, 1998.
  • Rosalind E. Krauss, Jane Livingston, Dawn Ades Amour Fou: Photography and Surrealism, Abbeville Press Inc., 1985.
  • Alyce Mahon, Surrealism and the Politics of Eros: 1938-1968, Thames & Hudson, 2005.
  • Michael Richardson, Surrealism and Cinema, Berg Publishers, 2006.
  • Ghislaine Wood, Surrealist Things: Surrealism and Design, V&A Publications, 2007.