Strange Sensations: The Startling and Surreal in PAFA's Permanent Collection: Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA

18 June 2022 - 2 April 2023
The artists featured in this exhibition draw inspiration from surrealism, magical realism, and vanitas to reveal the enchanting nature of the unknown.

The group exhibition Strange Sensations: The Startling and Surreal in PAFA’s Permanent Collection brings together 20th and 21st-century works of art that consider mysterious and otherworldly energies through a post-Surrealist lens. 


Each artist explores the uncanny through the macabre, deliria, phantasms, or unnerving truths. These realms are intrinsically linked by the intertwining of the absurd and mundane. The works of art presented disturb hidden or suppressed questions about the natural world and the human psyche. Collectively, the works highlight the human experience of finding beauty and humor amongst death and pain.  The strange sensations evoked by the 34 artists, including Peter DeanNancy Grossman, and Andy Warhol, invite viewers to consider how unearthly presences, hard truths, and fantastic imaginations influence our lives, with or without our cooperation.

Absurdity...can transcend immediate frustration by asking the viewers to question, not only what they are seeing and feeling, but more importantly, why they are questioning their uneasiness. Hopefully, the dichotomy only increases when one is seduced by the richness of the painting's surface and the enticing vividness of color; beauty as an art language to complement the darkness and humor. – Arnold Mesches

Artists include: Gertrude Abercrombie, Nicolas Africano, Darrel Austin, Manuel Ayaso, Huma Bhabha, Phyllis Bramson, Kenneth Callahan, Barbara Carrasco, Sue Coe, Fred Danzinger*, Peter Dean, Michael Shelby Edwards, Martha Mayer Erlebacher, Joy Feasley, Natalie Frank, Sidney Goodman*, Nancy Grossman, Simen Johan, Russell Keeter*, Linda Lee Alter, Rico Leburn, Michael Mayor*, Arnold Mesches, James McGarrell, Kate Moran*, Bernard Perlin, Seymore Rosofsky, Kurt Seligmann, William S. Schwartz, Julie Speed, Judith Taylor, Ruth Thorne-Thomsen, George Tooker, Andy Warhol, and Frederic Weber.  

*Affiliated with PAFA