“(…) you close your eyes and you look into your inner world.”
Max Ernst

Art movement created in 1920s in France, initially occurring only in literature, later also in visual arts. A term coined in 1917 by Guillaume Apollinaire.
Main inspirations for Surrealists were dreams and hallucinations, the world of fairy tales, myths, crativity of children and mental illnesses or Bosch’s artwork.

Main characteristics:
– freedom in the choice of creative techniques, preferred those that allow automatic actions (callage, decal, etc.)
– the painting is dominated by poetry factor, real objects play a new, imaginary function
– opposed the rationalist-structural tendencies of Cubism and Futurism, and Geometric Abstraction
– investigate the realm of the unconscious
– fascinated by automatic writing, mediumship (what psychoanalysis was all about at that time – Carl Gustav Jung, Sigmund Freud)
– attributed a major role unrestrained imagination, also drew some od the assumptions of romanticism
– a need to find and cultivate wonder and even seemingly ordinary dramatic events
– element of surprise, absurdity and nonsense
– intellectual challenge (open letters to the Pope, Dalai Lama or university rectors)
– similarly to Dadaist, Surrealists were fascinated by cinematography and photography
– drawing the object without looking at the paper
– introduced decalcomania, scraping, frottage, fumage, distribution of sand on paper

The List of the Artists: 
Salvador Dali, Giorgio de Chirico, Max Ernst, Hans Arp, Marcel Duchamp, Francis Picabia, Osvaldo Licini, Rene Magritte, Andre Breton.

Salvador Dali

Salvador Dali (b. 11/05/04 d. 23/01/89) Catalan painter, writer, designer and films director. The most famous surrealist artist. Although many considered Dali as very imaginative person, he had an urge to do many bizarre and strange things to attract the attention to himself.
“(…) He may be best known as the painter of 1931’s The Persistence of Memory — the crazy landscape with the droopy clocks. In the 1920s and ’30s Dali made his reputation in Europe and the U.S., influenced by the cubism of Picasso and the psychological theories of Freud. Breaking with other surrealist artists in the 1940s, Dali’s later paintings were more realistic and filled with religious and scientific imagery. As the years passed Dali became famous for his flamboyant personality and looks — in particular, for his pop-eyes and his super-waxed, turned-up mustache. Dali worked in several media, including film: He collaborated with filmmaker Luis Buñuel on the avant-garde Un Chien Andalou (1929) and L’Age d’Or (1930), and designed the dream sequence for Alfred Hitchcock’s Spellbound (1945)”


He was fascinated by the art of the 16th/17th century and the realism of the 19th century and followed the way of modeling, shadows and illusionistic effects. Excluded in 1934 from the surrealist group, he still consider himself as a true surrealist. For members of the group it was unacceptable to limit the optional interpretations with an obsessive subject and his political sympathies (directed toward fascism and General Franco).

Autumnal Cannibalism  1936

© Salvador Dali, Gala-Salvador Dali Foundation/DACS, London 2002

Painted just after the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936, this work shows a couple locked in a cannibalistic embrace. They are pictured on a table-top, which merges into the earthy tones of a Spanish landscape in the background. The conflict between countrymen is symbolised by the apple balanced on the head of the male figure, which refers to the legend of William Tell, in which a father is forced to shoot at his son.

Lobster Telephone

© Salvador Dali, Gala-Salvador Dali Foundation/DACS, London 2002

In the early 1930s, Dalí promoted the idea of the Surrealist object, of which this is a classic example. The Surrealists valued the mysterious and provocative effect of such unexpected conjunctions. Dalí, in particular, believed that his objects could reveal the secret desires of the unconscious. Lobsters and telephones had strong sexual connotations for him, and he drew a close analogy between food and sex. He made Lobster Telephone for Edward James, the British collector who was the most active patron of Surrealist artists in the 1930s.



Rene Magritte

René Magritte (b. 21/11/98 d. 15/08/67) Belgian surrealist artist. His works shocked and aroused controversy, distinguished poetic ambience and a precision of the figure. Initially influenced by Futurism, then associated with Surrealists in Paris (since 1927).  His sense of surrealism was inspired by the love of the absurd, the compilation of items of opposite sense, giving the effect of surprise. He is regarded as a continuator of the tradition of H. Bosch’s and J. Ensor’s fantasy, but interpreting it in a cheerful mood. Features of the workshop – initially neutral tone and taken from the eighteenth century, the nuances of gray.


© ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2002

The Spirit of Geometry  1937

Magritte exchanges the heads of a mother and a baby – compressing one and enlarging the other. The effect is at once uncanny, threatening, comic and perceptive. The shrunken mature woman and imposing child may unsettle the viewer but are intimately bonded with each other. Their inverted relationship seems to stand for the cycle of generations. The original title, ‘Maternity’, may have referred too literally to such themes before Magritte provided the current, more enigmatic, replacement.

© ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2002

The Annunciation  1930

The objects in this painting appear to be a metal sheet with bells, a paper cut-out and two balusters (Magritte referred to similar objects in his paintings as bilboquets, a French stick and ball game). Their enlargement and conjunction with the landscape creates a feeling of incongruity recalling the experience of dreams. In titling this work The Annunciation, Magritte may have been alluding ironically to the hostility towards Catholicism shown by the French Surrealists. But the title also suggests that something is about to happen, an expectation that is central to the eerie quality of this strange landscape.




One thought on “surrealism

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s