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Transcript of SURREALISM
The first World War 1 (1914- 1918) scattered the writers and artists who had been stationed in Paris. At this time many individuals became associated with the Dadaist movement; Who believed the rational thinking of the bourgeois values were the cause of the war in the first place.
The Dadaist were a funny bunch of artists who completely ignored conventional aesthetics and cultural values. The artworks from this period pushed the boundaries of what we understood as "fine" art. Often these artists illustrated absurdity, created purposeless machines, created collages with discarded materials as a way to express their cynicism about conventional ideas of form.
André Breton is the one credited with founding the surrealist movement. We'll take a closer look at him as an artist later. There is an interesting connecting piece of information: He was formally trained in both medicine and psychiatry, during the first World War he served in a neurological hospital where he used Sigmund Freud's psychoanalytic methods to help treat solders suffering from shell shock.
After the war, returning to Paris, André Breton joined in many of the Dadaist activities and started a literary journal with Louis Aragon and Philippe Soupault. It was through the journal that these three started experimenting with automatic writing. Remember the goal is to allow the unconscious part of our brain to express it's self. By doing so, the hope was to gain insight into why or what is responsible for our actions. How did we come to do such cruel things during this war.
This is the process of unlocking the subconscious mind and allowing the subconsciousness to freely express itself. Think about it as spontaneously creating without censoring your thoughts.
By subverting the conscious mind the surrealists had hoped to find something that was a bit deeper and raw, untarnished by the societal values.
Remember that the premise of the movement was to be in opposition to the established rationality of the bourgeois and their values.
While they continued to develop this practice of automatic writing, other artists and writers joined the movement and they begun to believe that automatism was a better tactic for creating societal change than the Dada attack on prevailing values.
Automatic drawing is one means of expressing the subconsciousness that the surrealists explored. In automatic drawing, you hand is allowed to move freely and randomly across the paper.
The main goal was through accidental mark marking and chance the drawing would be freed from rational thought and control.
Without that rational control that your conscious mind has the drawing is thought to express something from your subconsciousness.
Most surrealist automatic drawings were impressionistic would start out with this random approach, very much like when you're a kid and you draw to music, and through the process representational forms seem to suggest themselves.
Afterward the artist would use their rational part of their brain to make sense of the shapes and forms draw in order to construct a visual image.
This was one of the key principles surrealists had adopted. André Breton described the surrealist movement as "Pure psychic automatism".
This is the process of unlocking the subconscious mind and allowing your subconsciousness to express itself in some defined form.
Relating this back to Freud, the hope was that through automatism something about your deep psyche would be unlocked and revealed.
Automatic writing was the first tactic the Dadaist used to express the subconsciousness. In automatic writing, the writer would allow themselves to freely write whatever came to mind and as quickly as possible in order to circumvent the conscious mind.
The main goal is that the sub consciousness would be able to use the symbolism of the literary word to express ideas freely. The speed in which the author wrote was a way of breaking the control the conscious mind has over brain.
Without that rational control that your conscious mind has the writing is thought to express something from your subconsciousness.
This would often lead to sentences that broke traditional English grammar or sentence structure. In a way these writings would often resemble abstracted poems containing words and combinations of ideas that make no sense.
After once written the author could study these words and through utilizing the rational part of their brain try to figure out what the symbols and constructed imagery would represent.
1904-1922 Born in Figueres, studies drawing age 16.
1922-1949 Moves to Madrid for school then to Paris.
1949-1989 Moves back to Figueres in Spain .
Surrealism as a visual movement had found a method: to expose psychological truth; stripping ordinary objects of their normal significance, to create a compelling image that was beyond ordinary formal organization, in order to evoke empathy from the viewer.
The characteristics of this style—a combination of the depictive, the abstract, and the psychological—came to stand for the alienation which many people felt in the modern period, combined with the sense of reaching more deeply into the psyche, to be "made whole with one's individuality".
Dalí employed extensive symbolism in his work. For instance, the hallmark "melting watches" that first appear in The Persistence of Memory suggest Einstein's theory that time is relative and not fixed. "The elephant is a distortion in space", one analysis explains, "its spindly legs contrasting the idea of weightlessness with structure."
1896-1922 Born in Tinchebray, Normandy.
1922-1941 Moves to Paris.
1941-1946 Escapes to the United States.
He was a French writer and poet. Known best as the founder of Surrealism. In 1924 he was instrumental in the founding of the Bureau of Surrealist Research.
In a publication The Magnetic Fields, a collaboration with Soupault, he implemented the principle of automatic writing (1920).
The aim was to "resolve the previously contradictory conditions of dream and reality." Artists created unnerving, illogical scenes with photographic precision, created strange creatures from everyday objects that allowed the unconscious to express itself.
Breton was in the medical corps of the French Army at the start of World War II. The Vichy government banned his writings as "the very negation of the national revolution". Breton escaped, with the help of the American Varian Fry and Harry Bingham, to the United States and the Caribbean during 1941.
1891-1939 Born Bruhl, near Cologne
1939-1953 Escapes to New York. Settles in Arizona.
1953-1976 Moves to Southern France.
Early on, 1909 while attending university, he visited asylums and became fascinated with the art of the mentally ill patients; he also started painting that year.
Constantly experimenting, invented a graphic art technique called 'frottage', which uses pencil rubbings of objects as a source of images.
Ernst developed a fascination with birds that was prevalent in his work. His alter ego in paintings, which he called Loplop, was a bird. Suggested that this alter-ego was an extension of himself stemming from an early confusion of birds and humans.
Paintings and collages of 1925–31 had a lyrical and decorative character, the imagery in many of them was violent and menacing. This aspect of his work became more prominent after 1933, partly in reaction to the political and social climate of the time.
1980-1921 Born in Philadelphia.
1921-1940 Moves to Paris.
1940-1951 Back in the US, living in Hollywood.
1951-1976 Returned to Paris
WW1 marked the triumph of the machine over the merely human. When the war ended people wanted to become more machine-like. Houses became machines for living; writers became engineers of the human soul; chorus lines were fine-tuned like precision instruments; and the rich and famous took on the sheen and style of sleek sports cars.
In the age of the machine, photography was seen as a machine-like process manufacturing objective truths purged of subjectivity and emotion. But, for Man Ray, the camera was not a machine for making documents but an instrument for exploring dreams, desires and the medium's unconscious mind.
Pioneer of new photographic techniques such as rayographs and solarizations. - An image produced without a camera by placing an object on photosensitive paper and exposing it to light.
Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) was the founding father of psychoanalysis. This was a method for treating mental illness and also was a body of theory that explained human behaviors. Psychoanalysis is often known as the talking cure. Typically Freud would encourage his patient to talk freely regarding their symptoms and to describe exactly what was in their mind.
Sigmund Freud emphasized the importance of the unconscious mind, and a primary assumption of Freudian theory is that the unconscious mind governs behavior to a greater degree than people suspect. Indeed, the goal of psychoanalysis is to make the unconscious conscious.
Freud's work with free association, dream analysis, and the unconscious was of utmost importance to the Surrealists in developing methods to liberate imagination.
This is the part of your unconscious that seeks pleasure. This part of you brain holds those impulsive primal instincts that when left unchecked seek the greatest amount of satisfaction immediately. The id does not have a grasp on morality and cannot distinguish between what is right or wrong.
The ego's responsibility is to keep the id in check by maintaining a balance between the instinctual desires and/or demands of the id and establishing compromises according to reality. It recognizes that all the primal desires cannot be met and still works towards seeking pleasure and satisfaction. It is not aware of the difference between right and wrong. The ego takes into account ethical and cultural ideals in order to balance out the desires originated in the id. The ego has the function of self-preservation which is why it has the ability to control the instinctual demands of the id.
The superego develops around age 5, and it incorporates the morals of society. Freud believed that the superego is what keeps the impulsive nature of the Id or Ego in check if their desires or paths to satisfaction are against the morality of society. The superego can be consider to be the consciousness of the mind because it has the ability to distinguish reality as well as what is right and wrong. Without the superego Freud thought that the mind would have no way of understanding the difference between right and wrong. The superego is separated into two categories; the ideal self and the conscious. The conscious contains ideals and morals that exist within society to prevent people from acting out based on the desires of the id. The ideal self contains images of how people ought to behave according to society.
The Interpretation of Dreams was one of Freud's best known published work. The premise of the work outlines an approach to understanding the unconscious mind through the analysis of dreams. He had thought that the dreams were messages from the unconscious mind. There are four steps required to convert a dream from unconscious thoughts into usable content: Condensation, displacement, symbolism and emotional meaning of the dream.
Ideas first go through a process of condensation that takes thoughts and turns them into a single image.
Then, the true emotional meaning of the dream loses its significance in an element of a displacement.
In the last stage of converting dreams to manifest content dreams are made sensible.
The final of product of manifest content is what we remember when we come out of our sleep.
This is followed by symbolism representing our latent thoughts in visualize form. A special focus on symbolism was emphasized in the interpretation of dreams. Our dreams are highly symbolic with an underlying principle meaning. Many of the symbolic stages focus on sexual connotations. For example, a tree branch could represent a penis. Freud believed all human behavior originated from our sexual drives and desires.
It was World War II that caused the major center of western art, Paris, to shift to New York. Artists and writers that were opposed to Fascism and Nazism escaped from Paris beginning in 1939 and over the next few years nearly everyone would follow.
Many of the surrealist ideas were already present in New York at the time with artists like Arshile Gorky, Jackson Pollock, Robert Motherwell. It should be noted that the Abstract Expressionist movement really begun when American and European artists met while self-exiled during World War II. The conceptual ideas of the surrealist movement were accepted easily in the New World.
For a period of time nearly every big name in the western art world was located in New York. It is the surrealist movement that would influence abstract expressionist period which in turn would lead to the pop art and minimalist movements.
Karl Marx (1818-1883) was a German philospher, economist, sociologist, journalist and revolutionary socialist. His work in econimics is responsible for our current understanding of labour and its relation to capital and subsequent economic thought. He is one of the founders sociology and social science. Publishing numerous books during his lifetime the most notable is the "The Communist Manifesto".
Marxism is a collection of theories about society, economics and politics. It outlines that human societies progress through class struggle: a conflict between an ownership class that controls production and a dispossessed labouring class that provides the labour for production.
He saw states as being run by the ruling class, that upper class also referred to as the bourgeoisie, for their own interests while trying to pass it off as the 'common interest' for all of the people.
Marx predicted that capitalism produced internal tensions that would eventually lead to its own destruction. He socialism as the system that would replace the governing system after capitalism collapsed. Basically he saw that the middle class would eventually rebel against the upper bourgeoisie and would strive for political power to overthrow their control to establish a classless society where people were equal - communism, a society governed by a free association of produces. The middle class, the majority would be the ones to run the society.
Socialism is a political and economic theory of social organization that advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole. In Marxist theory is the transitional social state between the collapse of capitalism and the establishment of communism.
Communism is a socialist government system in which the means of production are commonly owned, and which has no state, money, or social classes. It is also a political way of thinking and an idea of how to get to such a society. Communism says that the people of any and every place in the world should all own the factories and farms that are used to make goods and food. This social process is known as common ownership. The main differences between socialism and communism are that, in a Communist society, the state and money do not exist. Work is not something a person must do to stay alive but is rather something people can choose whether or not to do.
According to Communist writers and thinkers, the goal of communism is to create a classless society by eliminating the power of the bourgeoisie (the ruling class, who own the means of production) and creating a dictatorship of the proletariat (the working class). Communism is not anti-individualism, but they do believe that decisions should be made to benefit the collective population rather than to serve the greed of one or several individuals.
Example: Assume there are three men. One has two units of a specific good, one has one unit of the same good, and another has no units of the good. The Communist Party would take one of the units from the first man and give it to the third man.
Writers and Artists flee to the New World
Surrealism was about liberating the creative power of the unconscious mind. Finding a way to channel the unconscious as a means to unlock the power of the imagination. This meant basically trying anything that circumvented the normal rational thought process.
Remember that most art movements are a response to what was happening at the time.
At the time the rational approach (which had reflected outdated bourgeois values) was rejected by the surrealists as fundamentally reactionary, untruthful and highly limiting.
The surrealist movement was the deviation from this traditional rationalism that the bourgeois culture came to be associated with.
The result was often brought incredibly innovative, bizarre and at many times unintelligible compositions that are considered weird and unconventional even by today's standards.
The method of psychological therapy originated by Sigmund Freud in which free association, dream interpretation, and analysis of resistance and transference are used to explore repressed or unconscious impulses, anxieties, and internal conflicts, in order to free psychic energy for mature love and work.