Surrealism: Making Sense of the Irrational
Four-week Course

Past program

NGV International

Ground Level

Making sense of the bright minds that shaped Surrealism, NGV curators and special guests guide you through an accessible study of the movement and its ongoing influence on contemporary art and today’s visual culture.


  • Introductory knowledge of the history and evolution of Surrealism
  • Awareness of key Surrealist artists and related works in the NGV Collection
  • Insights into the life of Salvador Dalí and the making of the painting Trilogy of the desert: Mirage, 1946
  • Skills in visual description and interpretation of Surrealist art
  • Understanding of the influence of Surrealism on contemporary culture

Please note this is not an accredited course.

Wed 17 Oct, 6–7.45pm (Past)

The history of Surrealism is uncovered through an introduction to the techniques used by Surrealist artists to unlock ideas and images from the unconscious mind. Who were the key figures in these early years, and what were they trying to achieve?

Wed 24 Oct, 6–7.45pm (Past)

Salvador Dalí’s Trilogy of the desert: Mirage, 1946, was the centrepiece of a triptych commissioned by William Lightfoot Schultz, founder of Shulton Cosmetics, to promote Desert Flower, a new brand of perfume and makeup for women.

How does this work fit into Dalí’s career, and what does the story of its making tell us about the influence of Surrealism on visual culture?

Wed 31 Oct, 6–7.45pm (Past)

Tour key Surrealist works on display at NGV International, including a look at contemporary works that reveal the influence of the movement on artists today.

Wed 7 Nov, 6–7.45pm (Past)

How has Surrealism impacted modern and contemporary art, and what are its echoes in broader visual culture?

Using the knowledge acquired over the course, how can we consider contemporary ideas that reference Surrealist thought? How do these insights inform our understanding of contemporary culture?

Special events Contemporary International NGV International