Titled after Luis Buñuel’s 1977 film about sexual obsession, this group show includes pieces from the 1940s to the present, and teases out formal and thematic connections among a nicely considered selection of Surrealist, Pop and contemporary artworks. The leitmotif here is the body reduced to parts: Tummies, breasts, lips, knees, buttocks and vulvas are reassembled into new and unsettling combinations or isolated as fetishized objects.
Dorothea Tanning’s 1970 stuffed pink-fabrics stomach, complete with navel, is joined by Alina Szapocznikow’s 1966 resin lamp made from a cast of her own lips, and Anthea Hamilton’s 2010 clear Plexiglas chair in the form of a woman’s spread legs. Elsewhere, foam cubes covered in’60s-inspired fabrics overprinted with images of nude models—a collaboration between Hamilton and designer Julie Verhoeven—converse with photographer Robert Heinecken’s Figure Horizon #4 (1972), in which a woman’s naked body has been rearranged to resemble a panorama of mountains. Rounding out the exhibition are Surrealist Hans Bellmer’s photographs of doll parts recombined into bulging monstrosities, and an assemblage by Alisa Baremboym featuring an enormous screw cast in gel.
The exhibition’s big attractions are Tanning and Szapocznikow, both women who brought a more nuanced view to Surrealism and Pop, respectively. A cynic might wonder whether the show is an attempt to recontextualize the frequently unsavory output of Heinecken and Bellmer by exhibiting their work with female artists. But the fact remains that Heinecken’s dead landscapes and Bellmer’s grotesque automatons lack the liveliness of the other pieces presented here.