Surrealism was an art movement that began in the early 20th century to express subjectivity and the unconscious in a way that is not limited by reality. It is intended to create a real sense of the fantastic and unleashes the creative process by which it is achieved.
The movement was led by poet André Breton and painter Salvador Dalí, who formed the group’s central nucleus. Surrealist artwork features the element of surprise, unexpected juxtapositions and non-sequiturs, and the rebellion against the constraints of rationalism.
When did Surrealism start
Surrealism started during the inter-war period, between the two World Wars. The end of the First World War in 1918 brought a new era in world history. The old world was destroyed, and a new one was born.
The style was launched by André Breton in 1924 when he published a manifesto of Surrealism, “Surrealism and Painting”. The manifesto stated that “pure psychic automatism” should be “the starting point and the guiding thread” in all artistic actions. He theorized that this would allow for the manifestation of the unconscious.
It was a time of significant change, which Surrealism used as the basis for its movement. It aimed to find an alternative to the crisis of values, aesthetics, and the political situation in Europe.
Why is Surrealism so important?
Breton and other artists wanted to change the typical view of reality and what people thought was possible. They wanted to explore and shatter societal norms.
Many of Breton’s thoughts on Surrealism focused on this idea of breaking away from society, specifically religion, and that “the true role of art is to make life more bearable.”
How would you describe Surrealism?
Heavily influenced by the psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, surrealists believed that it was possible to connect a dream and a wish. They also felt that art had the power to affect the unconscious mind in much the same way as psychoanalysis.
Surrealists are best known for their use of “found objects” in their work. These objects aren’t selected for their aesthetic value. They’re simply the first object that came to mind. It’s the intention that this object is imbued with a magical quality and in order to bring about a new world.
Using automatic drawing or writing techniques, artists such as Rene Magritte, Salvador Dali, and Paul Delvaux created imagery with a surreal feel.
Others like Max Ernst used their art to explore dreams or the tensions they felt between their desires and society’s conventions.
What artwork best represents the movement
There are many famous artists in the surrealist movement. For example, René Magritte’s painting “The Treachery of Images” (1928) is part of the surrealist movement. He painted a realistic image of a pipe to raise questions about the nature of images and reality.
Another famous artist is Joan Miro, who created “The Farm” (1925). This painting depicts a small farm on a cliff. Miro’s intention was to show the relationship between humanity and nature.
The work “The Persistence of Memory” by Salvador Dali is one of Surrealism’s most famous representations. It features soft watches in the shape of landscape and animals. Dali’s work was based on the idea of time and how time was inescapable and that nothing could escape it.
Surrealism is most prolific in paintings, but other mediums showcase it as well. For example, Marcel Duchamp created a sculpture called “Rotary Glass Plates” in 1925. Notably a large machine that rotates glass plates, each of which is a different size. Duchamp’s piece seamlessly blends the familiar and the unfamiliar. The artwork depicts the idea that the artist has control over reality.
Is the unconscious mind superior?
The juxtaposition of the familiar and unfamiliar allowed artists such as Salvador Dali, René Magritte, and Joan Miro to explore change, specifically change in art and societal norms. Artists therefore created art that challenged how people perceived and interacted with the world around them.