Surrealism is a period in art history when artists created dreamlike paintings filled with mysterious objects or familiar objects that have been oddly changed in ways that one would not see in reality (Kleiner, F. , 2000). It is a style of art, where objects are realistically painted. The art looks real with light shadows, and details, but the way they are arranged or the way their shape is altered makes them look dreamlike, and therefore, beyond real (Kleiner, F. , 2000). Roots of Surrealism The Surrealist movement started in France in the 1920’s.
According to my research, its roots were found in Dada, but it was less violent and more artistically based. Surrealism was first the work of poets and writers (Diehl, G. , 1986). The French poet, Andre Brenton, is known as the “Pope of Surrealism. ” Brenton wrote the Surrealist Manifesto to describe how he wanted to combine the conscious and subconscious into a new “absolute reality” (Diehl, G. , 1986). He first used the word surrealism to describe work found to be a, “fusion of elements of fantasy with elements of the modern world to form a kind of superior reality. He also described it as “spontaneous writing” (Diehl, G. , 1986).
The first exhibition of surrealist painting was held in 1925, but its ideas were rejected in Europe (Diehl, G. , 1986). Brenton set up an International Exhibition of Surrealism in New York, which then took the place of Paris as the center of the Surrealist movement. Soon surrealist ideas were given new life and became an influence over young artists in the United Sates and Mexico. The ideas of Surrealism were bold and new to the art world (Diehl, G. , 1986). Definition of Surrealism
Surrealism is defined as “Psychic automatism in its pure state by which we propose to express- verbally, in writing, or in any other manner- the real process of thought. The dictation of thought, in the absence of any control exercised by reason and outside any aesthetic or moral concerns” (Balakian, A. , 1986). In other words, the general idea of Surrealism is nonconformity. This nonconformity was not as extreme as that of Dada since surrealism was still considered to be art. Brenton said that “pure psychic automatism” was the most important principle of Surrealism.
He believed that true surrealists had no real talent; they just spoke their thoughts as they happened (Balakian, A. , 1986). Surrealism used techniques that had never been used in the art world before. Surrealists believed in the innocent eye, that art was created in the unconscious mind. Most Surrealists worked with psychology and fantastic visual techniques, basing their art on memories, feelings, and dreams (Balakian, A. , 1986). They often used hypnotism and drugs to venture into the dream world, where they looked for unconscious images that were not available in the conscious world (Balakian, A. , 1986).
These images were seen as pure art. Such ventures into the unconscious mind lead Brenton to believe that surrealists equaled scientists and could “lead the exploration into new areas and methods of investigation” (Balakian, A. , 1986). Types of Surrealism Freud inspired many Surrealists, but two different interpretations of his ideas lead to two different types of Surrealists, Automatists and Veristic Surrealists.
• Automatists focused their work more on feeling and were less investigative. They believed automatism to be “the automatic way in which the images of the subconscious reach the conscious” (Kleiner, F. 2000). However they did not think the images had a meaning or should try to be interpreted. Automatists thought that abstract art was the only way to convey images of the subconscious, and that a lack of form was a way to rebel against traditional art. In this way they were much like Dadaists (Kleiner, F. , 2000).
• Veristic Surrealists believed subconscious images did have meaning. They felt that these images were a metaphor that, if studied, could enable the world to be understood. Veristic Surrealists also believed that the language of the subconscious world was in the form of image (Kleiner, F. , 2000).
While their work may look similar, Automatists only see art where Veristic Surrealists see meaning. Surrealism drew elements from Cubism and Expressionism, and used some of the same techniques from the Dada movement (Kleiner, F. , 2000). Nonetheless there were certain techniques and devices that were characteristic to Surrealist art. Some devices including levitation, changing an object’s scale, transparency, and repetition are used to create a “typical” surrealist look (Balakian, A. , 1986). A very common Surrealist technique is the association of objects that would typically not be together in a certain situation or together at all.
This has been described as “beautiful as the encounter of an umbrella and a sewing-machine on a dissecting table” (Balakian, A. , 1986). Characteristics of surrealism Many surrealist artists painted very realistically but had one displaced object that changed the painting entirely. Another technique called “objective chance,” used images found in nature that could not be created by an artist. Stencils and rubbings were used to utilize these images (Kleiner, F. , 2000). An additional characteristic of Surrealist art is the fact that many pieces have very obvious or simple titles stating the subject matter simply, (Kleiner, F. 2000).
These techniques are typical of most Surrealist. However Surrealist are everything but typical. Some of the most famous Surrealist artists used these techniques to make masterpieces for example Salvador Dali and Joan Miro. Examples of Surrealism paintings/ Artist In Salvador Dali’s painting, “The Persistence of Memory,” probably the most recognized Surrealist painting, depicts melting clocks and a clock with ants coming out of it (Pierre, J. , 1974). The clocks look real but they are melting and clocks usually are not melting. Mysterious objects in paintings are objects that still look the same just in a weird way.
Rene Magritte’s painting “Not to be Reproduced” is an example of a painting with mysterious objects, (Pierre, J. , 1974).. There are two reflections in a mirror the person and the book. The book’s reflection is correct, but the person’s reflection is of the back of his head instead of his face. Rene Magrittes painting “Son of Man” is another example of a surrealist painting with mysterious objects (Pierre J. , 1974). There is a guy stiff with an apple on his face. Rene Magritte used traditional techniques to paint very realistic images. As a poster and wallpaper designer, he learned to paint realistically.
His art frequently depicted images of everyday life; however, he creatively changed some aspects to give his work certain meaning (Pierre J. , 1974). Magritte was able to turn dull images into extraordinary ones. Magritte’s own image, dressed in a dark suit and bowler hat, frequently appeared in his work. Many of his paintings had sinister and violent meanings, and the importance of surroundings was often stressed (Pierre J. , 1974). Expressionism Expressionism is a form of art in which the artist may exaggerate reality to get a more emotional effect (Figura, S. , 2011).
Abstract Expressionism or “AbEx” (a. k. a. Action Painting or Color Field Painting or The New York School) exploded onto the art scene after World War II with its characteristic messiness and extremely energetic applications of paint. The contemporary artist of that time did not think of Expressionism as art but as youthful antagonism, (Kleiner, F. , 2000). Abstract Expressionism is also referred to as Gestural Abstraction, because its brush stokes revealed the artist’s process (Kleiner, F. , 2000). This process of gesture is the subject of the art itself. roots of expressionism In the time period of 1900-1920, expressionism was based mainly in Germany.
The artist never called themselves expressionist, but there were two groups that did this type of work, (Figura, S. , 2011). They were the Der Blaue Reiter meaning “Blue rider” based out of Munich, Germany, founded by Wassily Kandinslay, (Figura, S. , 2011). These groups focused on letting art lead the way through the bad times to a new era of spirituality. Ernest Ludwig Kirchner founded the other group, Die Brucke meaning “The Bridge” based in Dresden, Germany. This group wanted artist to turn away from normal types of painting and turn towards rejuvenating their inner spirit through expressionism.
This type of art can be found in many categories, including, painting, literature, film and agriculture, (Figura, S. , 2011). Definition of expressionism The term “Expressionism” is thought to have been coined in 1910 by Czech art historian Antonin Matejcek, who intended it to denote the opposite of Impressionism (Spilsbury, R. , 2009). Whereas the Impressionists sought to express the majesty of nature and the human form through paint, the Expressionists, according to Matejcek, sought only to express inner life, often via the painting of harsh and realistic subject matter, (Spilsbury, R. , 2009).