From ArticleWorld

Surrealism is an artistic movement in which reality is subverted into a dream like state, using the unconscious mind and imagination as the guide for art, rather than real world objects. Surrealism spread throughout the various outlets of artistry in the early 20th century, including photography, painting, literature, film and numerous other media.


Defining Surrealism

French poet Guillaume Apollinaire coined the term ‘Surrealism’ in 1917, when he described the ballet ‘’Parade’’ as ‘super-realism (Sur-realism)’. The Surrealists were a group who had moved on from and developed the earlier movement of Dada. French writer Andre Breton published a book entitled ‘The Surrealist Manifesto’ (1924), in it Breton outline and defines the word surrealism and the role of surrealist artists. Breton claimed that surrealism was a movement in which an artist would attempt to truly communicate ‘the real functioning of thought.’

Salvador Dali

Spanish born artist Salvador Dali became a highly public figurehead for the movement, becoming known for his outlandish art and similarly unconventional lifestyle. Dali’s painting The Persistence of Memory, in which clocks are draped over objects, has become a recognisable symbol of not only his work but that of the movement in general. The world of surrealism was not strictly limited to abstract paintings, but was in fact a wide web encompassing most forms of artistic creativity. Dali himself co-created the highly subversive ‘’Un Chien Andalou’’ with filmmaker Luis Bunuel, a short film in which the climax shows the slicing of an eye with a razorblade.

Surrealist Artists

There are many recognisable figures from the world of art who are defined as surrealist artists. These include photographer Man Ray, writer and filmmaker Jean Cocteau and poet Paul Eluard to name just a few. The outlets of creativity were as endless as the apparent material that the artists could conjure up. Surrealists would often join creatively to explore new artistic paths, like in the instance of Dali’s movement towards film with Bunuel. Surrealism by definition is an art without barriers and it afforded artists the freedom to explore all avenues of their particular imagination. This freedom often led to highly unpalatable work, which the non-surrealist world reacted to strongly, this reaction would become more vehement and in the form of critical parody.

The End of Surrealism

Surrealism as a prominent art form began to dwindle after the conclusion of World War 2. Some parts of the art world, including critic Sarane Alexandrian claimed that the true legacy of the surrealist movement died along with Andre Breton in 1966. Others suggest that it lived on with Dali until his death in 1989. Examples of surrealist inspired work can be found throughout the late 20th Century and even into the 21st. Its remnants are usually contained to underground artistic cultures, like the post-modern films of David Lynch and to some extent the music of expressionist experimentalists like David Bowie and Brian Eno.