Monsters & Myths

Surrealism and War in the 1930s and 1940s

October 20, 2018–January 13, 2019

As Europe lurched toward fascism and America fought in the Second World War, no other artists produced images more powerfully disturbing than the Surrealists. Monsters & Myths: Surrealism and War in the 1930s and 1940s is the first major exhibition to focus on the interrelationship between Surrealism and war in both Europe and America during this period.

Surrealism—one of the most impactful and avant-garde movements of the 20th century—resulted from profound geopolitical shifts and pushed aesthetic boundaries to new places. Monsters and myths became some of the Surrealists’ most favorite subjects, as they often took recourse in mythological themes to depict the horrors of war and capture dark premonitions. This exhibition will examine key works in a variety of media by Salvador Dalí, Joan Miró, and Max Ernst, juxtaposing them with works by lesser known artists such as André Masson, Wolfgang Paalen, and Wifredo Lam.

Public Programs

Oct. 18, 20, 21 | Monsters & Myths Film Series: The Last Suit (El Último Traje)
Oct. 20 | Fall Community Day: Past, Present, Future
Oct. 24 | Member Morning: Monsters and Myths
Oct. 25 | Art Talk: The Marketing of Surrealism
Oct. 26, 28 | Gallery Talk: Monsters and Myths
Oct. 28 Monsters & Myths Film Series: The Peacemaker 
Nov. 2 | Gallery Talk: Surrealist Art Encounters Politics
Nov. 3 | Monsters & Myths Film Series: Pan’s Labyrinth (El Laberinto Del Fauno)
Nov. 4 | Monsters & Myths Film Series: Nosferatu (Silent Film with Live Music)
Nov. 8, 10, 11 | Monsters & Myths Film Series: The Interpreter
Nov. 10 | Second Saturdays for Families: So Surreal!
Nov. 11 | Gallery Tour: Monsters and Myths
Nov. 11 | Sunday Serenades Chamber Music Series: Monsters and Myths: Surrealism and Art
Nov. 12 | Docent Council 50th Anniversary Lecture Series: The Surrealist Adventure in Painting
Nov. 14 | Lecture: Wallace Stevens and Surrealism
Dec. 13 | Gallery Talk: Surrealism in Exile
Dec. 16 | Concert: Monsters and Myths
Dec. 30 | Monsters & Myths Film Series: Joyeux Noel

Exhibition Tours

October 27, 2018 – January 13, 2019
Saturdays & Sundays at 2:30pm

Special exhibition tours are free with museum admission; meet by the Museum Shop.

Click here to access the Monsters and Myths Mobile Tour from any location on your smartphone, tablet, or computer.


Baltimore Museum of Art | February 24 – May 26, 2019 
Frist Art Museum | June 21 – September 22, 2019

Exhibition Support
This exhibition was organized by the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art and The Baltimore Museum of Art.

Major support provided by the National Endowment for Humanities.


Generous support provided by Connecticut Humanities, The David T. Langrock Foundation, The Jean and Julien Levy Foundation for the Arts, and Sotheby’s.


Support for the accompanying publication provided in part by Furthermore: a program of the J.M. Kaplan Fund.


Sustaining support for the Wadsworth Atheneum provided by Newman’s Own Foundation and the Greater Hartford Arts Council’s United Arts Campaign.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue.

 Please be aware photography is not allowed in this exhibition due to loan and copyright requirements.


Image: Max Ernst, Europe After the Rain II (detail), 1940-1942, Oil on canvas, The Ella Gallup Sumner and Mary Catlin Sumner Collection Fund, 1942.281