"Agustín Fernández: Ultimate Surrealist" at American University Museum Tuesday, Feb. 4

Mention surrealism to casual art fans, and they’ll probably think of Salvador Dalí’s melting-clock masterpiece, “The Persistence of Memory.” But according to the title of a new show at the Katzen Art Center, it’s Cuban painter Agustín Fernández, not Dalí, who earned the title of “ultimate surrealist.” Many of Fernandez’s paintings emphasize hard, inorganic objects—think shiny metal parts and rigid angles—but as a child of the tropics, he also painted a few lush landscapes and floral arrangements in his time. Because he was working in the mid-20th century, his pieces seem straight out of the military-industrial complex, more nightmarish and machine-like than other dreamy surrealist work. Then again, the gritty, urban images summon a much more contemporary feeling than Dalí’s decaying campsite. The exhibit is on view Tuesdays to Sundays 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. to March 16 at the American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center, 4400 Massachusetts Ave. NW. Free. (202) 885-1300. american.edu/cas/museum.

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