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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.

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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.

Collection Highlights

evening jacket
Evening jacket, designed by Charles James, 1937, Paris, France
Table, designed by Méret Oppenheim, 1938 – 39, manufactured by Simon International, 1972 – 84, Paris, France
Normandie, French Railways, poster, by Salvador Dali, 1969, France
evening coat
(Detail) Evening coat, designed by Elsa Schiaparelli and Jean Cocteau, 1937, London, England
The Lonely Metropolitan, photograph, by Herbert Bayer, 1932, Berlin, Germany
champagne standard lamp
A pair of champagne standard lamps, by Salvador Dalí and Edward James, 1937 – 39, London, England
Mainbocher Corset (pink satin corset by Detolle), photograph, by Horst P. Horst, 1939, Paris, France
mae West Lips sofa
Mae West Lips sofa, by Salvador Dalí and Edward James, made by Green and Abbott, 1938 – 39, England
Eléctricité, photogravure, by Man Ray, published by Compagnie Parisienne de Distribution de l'Eléctricité, 1931, France
furnishing fabric
Beste Elenique, furnishing fabric, designed by Salvador Dali, made by Schiffer Prints, 1954, US
Shoe hat, designed by Elsa Schiaparelli, 1937 – 8, France


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