Part of a wider global network of artists and thinkers, Cairo-based collective Art et Liberté had a significant impact on Surrealism yet their work has remained relatively underrepresented.
Now, Tate Liverpool presents the UK’s first comprehensive exhibition that looks at their history and body of work, and explores the socio-political motivations that drove them.
Publishing their manifesto Long Live Degenerate Art in December 1938, in opposition to Hitler’s attack on modern art, the group aligned themselves with those European artists whose work had been termed ‘degenerate’ and responded to the rise of fascism. Between 1938 and 1946 they worked within both the context of the Second World War and colonial Egypt to inspire a generation of young artists, intellectuals and political activists, and aimed to make art that could effect social change.
Comprising more than 100 paintings, drawings, archival documents and film, this show includes works that comment on issues including police brutality and the objectification of women. It also looks at key artist Ramses Younane’s development of a new form of Surrealism, ‘subjective realism’, which drew on real-world motifs alongside those from the imagination.
Highlighting the group’s interdisciplinary nature, the exhibition includes examples of their collaborative literature and experiments in photography.