Surrealism

Online only

Plan a visit

Surrealism is one of the most influential art movements of the 20th century. The Surrealists explored unique ways of interpreting the world, turning to dreams and the unconscious as inspiration for a new vision. During the 1930s, the movement escaped the bounds of the radical avant-garde and transformed the wider world of design.

Read more
See less
Our collection illustrates how Surrealist imagery and ideas inspired designers in the fields of photography, theatre, furniture, fashion, textiles, ceramics and graphic design, and includes work by Jean Cocteau, Man Ray and Salvador Dalí among other leading Surrealists.

Exploring Surrealism

Photo of Evening jacket, Charles James, 1937, Paris. Museum no. T.385-1977. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Evening jacket, Charles James, 1937, Paris. Museum no. T.385-1977. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Photo of Table, Méret Oppenheim, designed 1938 – 39, Paris, made 1972 – 84, Italy. Museum no. W.21-1981. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Table, Méret Oppenheim, designed 1938 – 39, Paris, made 1972 – 84, Italy. Museum no. W.21-1981. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Photo of Normandie, French Railways, poster, Salvador Dali, 1969, France. Museum no.  E.781-2000. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Normandie, French Railways, poster, Salvador Dali, 1969, France. Museum no. E.781-2000. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Photo of Evening coat, detail, designed by Elsa Schiaparelli and Jean Cocteau, 1937, UK. Museum no. T.59-2005. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Evening coat, detail, designed by Elsa Schiaparelli and Jean Cocteau, 1937, UK. Museum no. T.59-2005. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Photo of The Lonely Metropolitan, Herbert Bayer, 1932, Germany. Museum no. CIRC.738-1968. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
The Lonely Metropolitan, Herbert Bayer, 1932, Germany. Museum no. CIRC.738-1968. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Photo of A pair of Champagne standard lamps, Salvador Dalí and Edward James, 1938 – 39, England. Museum no. W.1-2019, W.2-2019. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
A pair of Champagne standard lamps, Salvador Dalí and Edward James, 1938 – 39, England. Museum no. W.1-2019, W.2-2019. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Photo of Mainbocher Corset (pink satin corset by Detolle), Horst P. Horst, Paris, 1939. © Condé Nast/Horst Estate
Mainbocher Corset (pink satin corset by Detolle), Horst P. Horst, Paris, 1939. © Condé Nast/Horst Estate

Photo of Mae West Lips sofa, Salvador Dalí and Edward James, 1938 – 39, England. Museum no. W.6-2018. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Mae West Lips sofa, Salvador Dalí and Edward James, 1938 – 39, England. Museum no. W.6-2018. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Photo of Eléctricité, Man Ray, 1931, France. Museum no. E.1653-2001. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Eléctricité, Man Ray, 1931, France. Museum no. E.1653-2001. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Photo of Beste Elenique, furnishing fabric, Salvador Dali,  1954, US. Museum no. CIRC.151-1954. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Beste Elenique, furnishing fabric, Salvador Dali, 1954, US. Museum no. CIRC.151-1954. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Photo of Shoe hat, Elsa Schiaparelli, 1937 – 38, France. Museum no. T.2-2009. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Shoe hat, Elsa Schiaparelli, 1937 – 38, France. Museum no. T.2-2009. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Learn more about Surrealism

Background image: Mae West Lips sofa, Salvador Dalí and Edward James, 1938 – 39, England. Museum no. W.6-2018. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London