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The Origin of Surrealism

Back in time, there were things that came around and changed people’s perspectives. Surrealism is one such thing, which was nothing but an art movement that emerged from the fall of Dadaism. Just about the same period when artists started to move out to other factions of Dadaism, at the start of 1924, Surrealism was started by Andre Breton.

Surrealism was actually made up of combined elements from its predecessor and cubism. This movement first met rejections but its unique techniques and eccentric ideas are actually what paved way for a different type of art.

Growth of Surrealism

The advent of surrealism is attributed to the fall of Dadaism. The latter was a movement where artists expressed their disgust with traditional approaches of art and life as a whole. Art from Dadaism often had a sense of violence and attitude of protest.

Surrealism mainly started in Europe mainly in Paris. Although it traces its roots from Dadaism, it was actually based on art more than violence. Andre Breton, the French poet is prominently known as “Pope of Surrealism.”  The movement rose to become internationally known and included the British Surrealism started in 1936.

It was influenced strongly by the pioneer of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud together with his theories on unconsciousness. Surrealism was mainly aimed at revealing the unconscious then perform reconciliation with the rational life.

Major Contributors in Surrealism

Surrealism had several key contributors who contributed to its growth. Some of these names included Salvador Dali, Rene Magritte, Joan Miro and Max Ernst.

This movement has two major categories; automatism (a process of creating art to unleash the unconscious without involving the conscious thought) and oneiric (an imagery that is dreamlike).  There are other artists who used newer techniques like collage and frottage to come up with bizarre imagery.

Salvador Dali was a surrealist of Spanish origin who created imagery that were dream like in a more realistic style. Dali often repeated some of the symbols used in his art work, some of which included melting clocks, ants and eggs. Dali also had works in sculpture, film and photography.

Joan Miro was also a Spanish surrealist, who created his imagery through automatic techniques. He used a rather childish style that simplified familiar things like stars, animals, body parts, etc into various geometric shapes. Miro used a restricted color palette that mainly consisted of primary colors.

Paul Nash is yet another contributor of surrealism. He was a British artist popularly known for landscape paintings. Nash was mainly influenced by art works from Giorgio de Chirico due to the use of mysterious objects and landscapes.

Progress of Surrealism

Even though Surrealism’s advent is mainly attributed to Paris, other strains of this movement can be found via art in many other places around the globe. The political upheavals of World War II resulted to the spread of the surrealists all over the globe. Some of these artists migrated into America during the War. These surrealists mainly influenced art, cinema, literature, behaviors and social attitudes.

By the end of 1940s ideas of the surrealist movement to reveal the unconscious had greatly influenced new movements including abstract expressionists. The Surrealism movement paved way to new forms of art that had never been seen before. It gave rise to the use of odd techniques in painting and interpreting images of dream and subconscious world.

The surrealist art was open to different interpretations. This form of art faced a lot of opposition in the world of art, but eventually came to be accepted and opened paths for other forms of art.


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