Tuesday, May 03, 2005

What Is Surrealism ?

By looking at some Art History texts you may find out that the Surrealism is a literary and art movement. Andre Breton founded Surrealism in Paris in 1924. Breton authored the Manifesto (Manifeste du surrealisme), which advocated the expression of imagination revealed in dreams. He later wrote two other manifestoes, published in 1930 and 1934. Surrealism attracted many Dadaist artists. Other Surrealist origins came from painters such as Paolo Uccello, William Blake, and Odilon Redon. Its origins in literature were traced to French poets Baudelaire, Rimbaud, and Apollinaire and the literary side of the movement remained primarily in France. In the visual realm, Surrealism became popular in the 1920’s and 30’s with the help of a famous painter, Salvador Dali.

Similar to the 19th century Symbolist movement, Surrealism was based on the psychoanalytic theories of Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung, emphasizing imagination and subconscious imagery. A Surrealist work usually contained realist imagery arranged in a nonsensical style in order to create a dreamlike state.

Artists used spontaneous techniques based on the "free association" a concept, also called automatism, in which conscious control was surrendered to the unconscious mind. The Surrealist movement can be divided into two groups of differing expressive methods: Automatism or "Absolute" Surrealism and Veristic Surrealism. While Automatism was focused on expressing subconscious ideas, Veristic Surrealists wanted to represent a connection between abstract and real material forms. In other words, Verists transformed objects from the real world in their paintings, while Automatists derived their imagery purely from spontaneous thought.

Surrealism opened the way for later movements such as Abstract Expressionism and the Magic Realism. Surrealism offered an alternative to geometric abstraction and kept the expressive content alive in the 20th century. The more you look at a Surrealist work, the more you will understand the magic of it.

False Mirror by Rene Magritte 1928.


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