Becky Y. Lu at Hudson Review:
Surrealism is having a moment. It is the theme of this year’s Venice Biennale and was that of last winter’s major exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Absurdist, dystopic shows like Severance (Apple TV+) and Russian Doll (Netflix) are resonating with audiences and critics. René Magritte’s L’empire des lumières (1961) fetched a record price recently at auction. And why not, for we are besieged by surrealities, both serious and comical, almost daily: the potential resurgence of underground abortions in the U.S., Will Smith slapping Chris Rock at the Oscars, Russia’s continued assault of Ukraine, the histrionics of Elon Musk’s flailing Twitter takeover, senseless deaths from unnecessary guns, Partygate at 10 Downing Street, the airlifting of infant formula into the richest country in history, the rise of autocracy, and so on. The chaos that crowds our newsfeeds seems to belong to another century, if not an alternate universe.
It was perhaps no coincidence, then, that the Metropolitan Opera revived Jonathan Miller’s Surrealist, fin-de-siècle take on Igor Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress.