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Transcript of Surrealism
"Surrealism! What is Surrealism? In my opinion, it is above all a reawakening of the poetic idea in art, the reintroduction of the subject but in a very particular sense, that of the strange and illogical."
Paul Delzux, lecture, 1966
A movement in art and literature that flourished in the early twentieth century. Surrealism aimed at expressing imaginative dreams and visions free from conscious rational control. They expressed this using unexpected juxtapositions, etc.
The Surrealist art movement stemmed from elements of Dadaism and Cubism. The Dada movement was an art form in which artists could state their disgust with World War I and the way the people were treated during the 1920's. Surrealism, although influenced by the Dada movement, was less violent and artistically based.
The Surrealist movement officially began in Europe, primarily in Paris in the 1920’s after World War I. Surrealism began by the works of poets and writers, and derived from the French poet André Brenton who is known as the “Pope of Surrealism” who published "The Manifesto of Surrealism," in 1924.
The Surrealistic art movement began as a way to express the subconscious imagination in a way that was free from control and reason. It was similar to Dadaism but was lighter in spirit and provoked the feeling of freedom in art.
The aim was to attempt to discover a super-reality by interpreting dreams and reality together. It revealed the unconscious and reconciles it with rational life.
Surrealists worked with psychology, basing their art on memories, feelings, and dreams. They often used drugs to endeavor into the fantasy world, where they looked for unconscious images that were not available in the conscious world.
Surrealism had a huge influence on art, literature and cinema, as well as social attitudes and behaviour. Surrealism challenged the every-day culture and provoked people to see paintings in double meanings and change their perceptions and outlook on paintings. The practice of Surrealism emphasised the research and experimentation of art as a means of promoting personal psychic investigation and revelation. The emphasis on free form provided an alternative to the contemporary, formal artwork that had once been, and embraced a new art and movement which would later lead to Modernism.
There are many methods in Surrealism, some devices include:
Changing an object’s scale
These are used to create a “typical” Surrealist look. A number of specific techniques were devised by the Surrealists to evoke psychic responses. Among these were frottage and grattage both developed by Ernst to produce partial images, which were to be completed and interpreted in the mind of the viewer. Another method of Surrealist paintings is the juxtaposition of objects that would not be together normally. This is used to show a metaphor or to convey a certain message. Many artists painted realistic paintings but would displace an object to change the painting entirely.
Rubbing with graphite over wood or other grained substances.
Scraping the canvas.
Two things being seen or placed close together with contrasting effect.
Some of the most famous Surrealist artists include Marcel Duchamp, Salvador Dali, Max Ernst, Georgia O’Keeffe, Pablo Picasso, MC Escher, Joan Miro, Rene Magritte, and Man Ray.
• Jean Arp (1886-1966)
• Hans Bellmer (1907-1975)
• Louise Bourgeois (1911-2010)
• Leonora Carrington (b. 1917)
• Joseph Cornell (1903-1972)
• Paul Delvaux (1897-1994)
• Leonor Fini (1907-1996)
• Alberto Giacometti (1901-1966)
• Frida Kahlo (1907-1954)
Analyze and Compare
The Portrait by René Magritte, 1935
The Persistence of Memory by Salvador Dalí, 1931
The paintings, although only created 4 years apart, perceive a completely different structure and feeling. ‘The Portrait’ by Rene Magritte created in 1935 shows the classic surrealistic method of juxtaposition. The oil painting appears to be quite realistic and ‘normal’ but when perceived from a different view; you can see that the food in fact has an eye, which changes the feeling, characteristics and perception of the whole painting. The artist Rene Magritte added one object into the picture and changed the whole feeling of it.
However the painting ‘The persistence of Memory’ by Salvador Dali painted in 1931 has a completely different perception and shows a different side of surrealism and therefore provokes a different reaction compared to ‘The Portrait’. Salvador Dali’s painting does not display a realistic feel, and depicts an unrealistic and imaginative dream of unusual shapes and contrasts. Although both surrealistic paintings, they stir different emotions within a person, and depict completely different images and display diverse ranges of unconsciousness and unrealistic feelings within both paintings.
Reaction to Surrealism
At first, the public reacted poorly to surrealism. Some thought of surrealism as not very artistic, others viewed it as overly wild and outlandish, while some simply did not understand the art in general and showed outrage towards the movement. It was initially rejected, but soon became an influence over young artists in the United States and Mexico and changed the art as people know it today.
Events during 1920's-1930's
• Pluto Discovered -1930
• Stalin Begins Collectivizing Agriculture in the U.S.S.R. -1930
• U.S. Officially Gets National Anthem -1931
• Amelia Earhart First Woman to Fly Solo Across the Atlantic -1932
• Adolf Hitler Appointed Chancellor of Germany -1933
• First Nazi Concentration Camp Established -1933
• Loch Ness Monster First Spotted -1933
• Cheeseburger Created -1934
• Germany Issues the Anti-Jewish Nuremberg Laws -1935
• Spanish Civil War Begins -1936
• Golden Gate Bridge Opened -1937
• The Hindenberg Disaster -1937
• Broadcast of "The War of the Worlds" Causes Panic -1938
• The Night of Broken Glass (Kristallnacht) -1938
• Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Is the First Full-Length Animated Cartoon -1938
• World War II Begins -1939
The people hated the nationalists and capitalist values that had led to the catastrophe of World War I. This disgust led to the unorthodox techniques of Dadaism, which created a mirror of the absurdity that the world had faced during the crisis of World War I. After the war, many artists who had advocated and participated in the Dada movement began to practice Surrealism, which was a more positive and light form of art compared to Dadaism. Surrealism originated in the late 1910’s and early 20’s. The movement in Europe ended in the 1930’s, with the onset World War II.
Many other events occurred during the 1920’s and 1930’s during the surrealistic period such as...
Although all these events were occurring, the main events that initially brought on the Surrealistic movement was the end of the World War I and the former movement Dadaism. Many artists also began using the Surrealistic techniques with the onset of the Russian Revolution, The Spanish Civil War, The Great Depression and The Stock Market Crash. These events were portrayed through the artwork of the artists during the Surrealistic movement, and they painted what they felt the absurd world was like at that time.
• First Commercial Radio Broadcast Aired -1920
• League of Nations Established -1920
• Extreme Inflation in Germany -1921
• Insulin Discovered -1922
• Tomb of King Tut Discovered -1922
• Charleston Dance Becomes Popular -1923
• Time Magazine Founded -1923
• First Olympic Winter Games -1924
• V.I. Lenin Dies -1924
• A.A. Milne Publishes Winnie-the-Pooh -1926
• A Woman Swims the English Channel -1926
• BBC Founded -1927
• Lindbergh Flies Solo Across the Atlantic -1927
• Bubble Gum Invented -1928
• First Mickey Mouse Cartoon -1928
• Penicillin Discovered -1928
• Car Radio Invented -1929
• The Great Depression Begins -1929
• Stock Market Crashes -1929
How Surrealism is regarded today
There are many themes in Surrealism, the main of these are eroticism, socialism, dreams and the subconscious, atheism and symbolism. The Surrealist movement was aimed to be a more positive expressive art form, which ventured into ‘the unknown worlds’ of the unconscious mind.
• The unconscious played a large extent in the Surrealists work and was one of the main objectives of the art movement. The unconscious was used to try and create images of ‘unconscious’ worlds and create an unrealistic, abnormal universe which could be expressed through paintings. Surrealists worked with psychology and visual techniques, basing their art on the unconscious memories, dreams, feelings and emotions.
• Disillusionment and loss of confidence is present in Surrealists work to some extent but they mostly focused on the positive and lightness of the world that the previous art movement Dadaism, had lacked. Surrealism used the theme of emotion to a large extent, and the artist painted what emotion they were feeling. This was portrayed through the colour and unrealistic structure of the paintings.
• Surrealism really embraced the celebration of the modern, and brought an art movement which the world had never seen before. It embraced the new changes that had occurred after World War I, and showed a different side to art and of the universe (the unconscious) that people had previously never seen.
• “The subconscious has a symbolic language that is truly a universal language, for it speaks with the vocabulary of the great vital constants, sexual instinct, feeling of death, physical notion of the enigma of space—these vital constants are universally echoed in every human. To understand an aesthetic picture, training in the appreciation is necessary, cultural and intellectual preparation. For Surrealism the only re requisite is a receptive and intuitive human being.” --Salvador Dali
Surrealism is said to be the leading influences of art in painting and sculpture and also culturally in the 20th century. Many of the Surrealistic techniques are still widely used today, especially in advertising. As technology has advanced so has Surrealism, and is now widely used in advertising made on computer devices. The modern technology can be used to manipulate the perception of the product for sale and grab the audience’s attention in order to make a successful sale. Not only has it influenced the modern world on advertising, but has had a great impact in art, literature, culture and even politics.
Surrealism is regarded very highly and gradually yielded into another artistic style Modernism, and is still seen largely in modern art and film. Surrealism taught the world to see art in a different form, and not just visually and literally, but to see from a subconscious level as well. Surrealism continues to grow globally and is an easy way for artists to express their feelings and thoughts.
Modern day Surrealism
Modern day Surrealism advertising
Modern day Surrealism
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"Psychic automatism in its pure state, by which one proposes to express--verbally, by means of the written word, or in any other manner--the actual functioning of thought. Dictation of thought, in the absence of any control exercised by reason, exempt from any aesthetic or moral concern." (Breton, Manifesto of Surrealism, 1924)
Max Ernst painting "Forest and Dove", 1927
Example of Grattage
Example of Frottage
Max Ernst Painting "The Wood", 1927
Catalan Salvador Dali joined in with surrealism in 1930 and , despite being the most famous member of the movement, was only part of it for two years.
His most famous painting, “The Persistence of Memory” was painted in 1931.
Salvador was also a sculptor, filmmaker, writer, jewellery designer, book illustrator and worked in theatre.
Dali designed the Chupa Chups logo.
Salvador Dali produced more than 1500 paintings in his lifetime. He also created numerous drawings, illustrations, sculptures, short films, books and lithographs.
Dali died of heart failure on 23rd January 1989 at the age of 84.
Wilfredo Lam (1902-1982)
• Henri Moore (1898-1986)
• André Masson (1896-1987)
• Roberto Matta (1911-2002)
• Meret Oppenheim (1913-1985)
• Isamu Noguchi (1904-1988)
• Kay Sage (1898-1963)
• Yves Tanguy (1900-1955)
• Dorothea Tanning (1910-2012)
One of the most
Surrealist Artists was Salvador Dali
"Drawing is the honesty of the art. There is no possibility of cheating. It is either good or bad." - Salvador Dali
“There are many surrealist paintings, but Dali is one of few who is able to convince that this other world could also be real.”
The False mirror, Rene Margritte, 1928
“Hard objects become inexplicably limp in this bleak and infinite dreamscape” (The Museum of Modern Art 2007).
King Kong, 1933
Example of Surrealism in cinema