Les Abattoirs, Toulouse

E.R.O.S. (1959) - Centenary of Surrealism: Collection Daniel Cordier

76 allées Charles de Fitte, 31300 Toulouse

July 7, 2023 - August 25, 2024

New Presentation to Celebrate the Centenary of Surrealism in 2024.

Since their opening in 2000, the Abattoirs, Musée - Frac Occitanie Toulouse, have been hosting Daniel Cordier's collection on permanent loan, donated to the Musée national d'art moderne - Centre Georges Pompidou (Paris). Former secretary to Jean Moulin and Companion of the Liberation, art enthusiast Daniel Cordier also served as a gallery owner from 1956 to 1964, a period he described as "eight years of agitation." At the heart of this period, in 1959, he hosted in his gallery the eighth International Exhibition of Surrealism, "E.R.O.S." (Exposition inteRnatiOnale du Surréalisme) celebrating eroticism. Today, the Abattoirs invite you to delve into the history of this event.

Twelve years after "Surrealism in 1947" at the Maeght gallery, writer André Breton (1896-1966), author of the Surrealist Manifesto (1924), and artist Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968) conceived a new collective exhibition of the group at the Cordier gallery, with stenography by graphic designer and architect Pierre Faucheux (1924-1999). The movement, founded in 1924, had already been the subject of seven similar events, happening exhibitions, starting from the one in 1936 held at the New Burlington Galleries (London), and continuing with the one in 1938 at the gallery des Beaux-Arts, Paris.

In "E.R.O.S.," André Breton argues against dealing with carnal love, in order to better celebrate the "fundamental need for transgression" of the surrealists: like Cordier, they too are agitators. Around a collection of historical works by the group, along with others that are unpublished or related, "E.R.O.S." is a labyrinth inhabited by Friedrich Schröder-Sonnenstern, Robert Rauschenberg, Mimi Parent, and many other playmates. Welcomed by the scent of a perfume with "sexual" notes and the diffusion of "amorous sighs," the audience enters a maze lined with velvet. On the floor, a thick layer of sand muffles the sounds: in what remains one of the first happening exhibitions, everything is done to disorient the viewer, from the "Forest of Sex" to the "Den," passing through the "Crypt of Fetishism."

At the Abattoirs, the journey through this evocation of "E.R.O.S." via Daniel Cordier's collection brings together some of the artists who were present, as well as contemporary works that update its purpose. Under the aegis of Eros, which serves as the guiding theme ? or pink thread ? of the visit, the themes explored delve into the various aspects of love, sensuality, fantasy, and even violence. A first room celebrates the body: alongside Hans Bellmer's Dolls, the evocation of Meret Oppenheim's Feast shares the image of a particular body, that of women in surrealist representations. From the body, we move to the living in the second room, to the breath of life shared by Human and Nature: the union of the two produces works where the vegetal and the carnal merge, like the cave lined with pink created in the Cordier gallery. The Object focuses in a third room on the interest that group members have in it, whether in their works, like Alberto Giacometti, inventor of the "object with symbolic function," or in their interest in naturalia. Cordier is also a man of letters: in a final room, shapes and materials blend with the pleasure of reading. Surrealists, poets, academics have contributed since the post-war period to writing a history of sexuality and eroticism: today, its reinterpretation tints the poetics of bodies with a political hue.