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The beauty of art lies in imagining the seemingly impossible things or scenario and then presenting it to the audience in the form of art. The artists constantly try to imagine innovative things and wow their audiences. Surrealism is one such art movement, where arts tried to put together images and events, which are not related to each other, strangely or impossibly, like in a dream. This was an attempt to express what happens deep in a person’s mind.
Salvador DalI, Portrait of Madame Isabel Styler-Tas (Melancolia), 1945, Scharf-Gerstenberg Museum, Berlin
What is Surrealism?
Surrealism is an art movement that started in Paris, France. The year was 1924, and the occasion was the publication of the Manifesto of Surrealism by Andre Breton. The most important centre of the movement was Paris, France. The movement from great influenced by the theories of psychoanalysis proposed by Sigmund Freud's with its aim to "resolve the previously contradictory conditions of dream and reality." The artists, who promoted surrealism wanted to explore and reveal the unconscious and subconscious mind of human beings. They did so in literature, art and cinema by changing the modes of representation and the aesthetics of imagery.
Surrealist art is not related to any particular style of art, but it’s a combination of two recurring art styles – Automatism and the dream-like works. Both these styles emerged out of Sigmund Freud’s theory.
While the dreams reveal the workings of the unconscious mind, the Automatism was associated with Freud's technique of free association. It is also associated with an element of surprise an unexpected contradictions. Major artists who contributed to this movement included Salvador Dali, Max Ernst and René Magritte.
Origin of Surrealism:
It was the French poet, playwright, short story writer, novelist, and art critic, Guillaume Apollinaire, who is believed to have coined the term "Surrealism", as early as 1917. However, the movement did not get many takers immediately and was not officially established until 1924. It was only on October 15 it got into prominence when the French poet and critic André Breton published the Surrealist Manifesto in Paris.
It was only after this that the movement, which started in Paris, started to spread in other parts of the globe. The movement not only impacted various art forms such as visual arts, literature, film, and music, but also impacted the political thought and practice, philosophy, and social theory of many countries and cultures.
Reasons for growth of Surrealism:
The end of World War I brought many political, social and cultural changes in Europe. There was mass destruction of life and property in Europe. People were facing a lot of hardships in life. The artists wanted some outlet to vent out their feelings. So, they started moving away from painting an unreal picture of the world and wanted to highlight the dark and cruel, but true picture of life. Surrealism was also inspired by the Dada movement and is best known for its visual artworks and writings and superimposition of distant realities to activate the unconscious mind of common people through their paintings. Inspired by this thought, the painters started painting images that were disturbing, illogical, sometimes with photographic precision and thereby creating strange creatures from everyday objects. This developed into a unique painting technique, a technique that allowed the unconscious to express itself. The objective was to "resolve the previously contradictory conditions of dream and reality into an absolute reality, a super-reality", or surreality.
Characteristics of Surrealism:
Surrealistic art comprises works that contain an element of surprise, an element of unexpected superimposition of two distant images or events. However, many artists and writers regard their surrealist work as an expression of the philosophical movement first and foremost, with the works themselves being an artefact.