Surrealism is a cultural interest group that started in the 1920’s.it is well-known for the writings and visual artworks of the group members. The surrealist writers and artists express their philosophical movements using artifacts. Its leader is Andre Breton, who affirmed that it was the most dominant revolutionary movement .it developed out of Dadaism during the First World War. It changed the way art was defined by combining elements of its predecessors-Dadaism. From then it spread throughout the world, in time affecting the languages, literature, music, and film, political, social and philosophical theory.
Dadaism laid the foundation for surrealism. It believed that rational thought and values played a major role in world conflict. Both dada and surrealism were disappointed with the Western emphasis on logic and reason. They affirmed their disgust with the war and life as a whole. Breton came up with something better out of Dada’s irrational activities thereby binding up with the Sigmund Feud’s psychoanalytic theories.
Using unconventional methods such as frottage and automatism, the surrealists such as Man Ray, Salvador Dali and Max Ernst, tried to tap into the delusion of visualizing its mystery and secrets and subconscious mind.
In 1924, Breton wrote a manifesto ‘surrealist manifesto’, which defines the aims of the group. The manifesto described how he wanted to coalesce the conscious and the subconscious into new absolute reality. This comprised of surrealist works, the credentials of the influences on surrealism, and discussion of surrealist automatism. According to Martin Jay, surrealists were often regarded as the starriest eyed exponents of visionary redemption. He quoted Andre Breton “I have discarded clarity as worthless. Working in darkness, I have discovered lightning” and Georges Bataille, “it is time to abandon the world of the civilized and its light”.
The character of dada and surrealism provides a depth understanding to psychoanalytic theory and gives a careful analysis to surrealism. During the 19th and early 20th century, the widespread developments that were taking place in science, philosophy, and mathematics, had a significant impact on how people understood the nature of the mind and its hold on reality. The dada and surrealist movements developed the psychoanalytic approaches during that period as they had seen their approach changing.
Surrealism continued with their movement, meeting up in cafes where they discussed surrealism theories, played joint drawing games and developed various techniques such as automatic drawing .the broad idea of surrealism is non-conformity .its most basic principle is pure psychic automatism.
Surrealists embraced Sigmund Freud’s ideas which they incorporated in their artwork. He said “A dream that is not interpreted is like a letter that is not opened”. In spite of Freud inspiring most of the surrealists, different interpretations of his ideas gave rise to different types of Veristic surrealists and automatists surrealists. The automatists were less analytical and focused more on sensitivity. They believed the images of the subconscious automatically reached the conscious. They however believed the images had no meaning nor had to be interpreted.
On the other hand, the Veristic surrealists believed the conscious images had a meaning .they also believed that the subconscious world was in the form of the image. Freud also believed both the conscious and unconscious states were in the human mind. Through dreams, the mind works in an unconscious way, holding onto instincts and reserved memories that have over time been hidden. This idea of dreams was very significant on surrealists. They used this idea to explore creativity in the unconscious mind.
To get the surreal art ideas, there has to be a combination of the object and a living object. For instance, a chair and a cat, this provides an inquisitive effect, in that things that have never been a live though unexpectedly are.
Two or more living objects can be merged, coming up with a surreal creation. For instance, one can combine a humane eye, cow’s hooves and a sparrow’s beak. Combining a living object with a landscape can also create a surreal effect. This personification can be fun and quirky.
Combining a landscape with a mechanical or a technological element. All these communications propose a relationship to organic or biological forms found in nature although they do not look like a naturalistic or a realistic imitation of anything in the existent world. This is referred to as biomirphism.
Surrealism has offered the contemporary avant-garde various things such as an assortment from the unconscious reality. The interest in Freud emphasized on metaphor, collective experience, myth, fetishism and comprehension. It has exposed the unified avant-garde of the artists .it has as well brought the idea of non-linear creation and non-linear thought as being significant to be.
The death of Andre Breton in 1966 marked the end of surrealism as a revolutionary movement. Since 1960’s, Europe and other parts of the world, artists have amalgamated surrealism with mischtechnik, a16th century technique. Surrealism has impacted many fields. Its ideas grounded on the thoughts of Marx, Freud and Hegel is used to date. They believe that the non-western cultures strike a balance between imagination and instrumental reasoning, providing an inspiration for the surrealist activities.
Surrealism has been greatly critiqued over time. For instance, the feminists have claimed that more of a male comradeship and movement, in spite of few renowned female surrealist poets and painters. They think it has adopted ancient approaches towards women, for instance worshipping those symbolically using sexist norms and stereotypes.
The Freud started a psychoanalytic critique of surrealism, stating that what interested him about surrealism was their conscious but not the unconscious. He argued that the psychic automatism affirmed by surrealism as liberation of the unconscious was structured by egocentrism, just as the actions of the dream censorship in dreams. It was a mistake therefore to regard surrealist works of the unconscious, when they were created and developed by ego.
Despite the situationists being the surrealist themselves, some critiqued the movement. This could be viewed as a surrealist praxis break and continuance.
In modern day, surrealism has proved to be the most significant artistic and literary movement .it has changed the legacy and as well as the intellectual legacy of today. It is evident in the way writers, advertising agencies, artists and film-makers, keep on exploring and exploiting the subjective inner world that surrealism made efforts to reveal. They continue to shape our perception of the world and our role in it. Surrealists look at all aspects of the art comprehensively.
The surreal today adopts a similar manner of speech. The world summons up the ideas of the disorientation and the disjoint less, weird and wonderful, unfamiliar and inexplicable worlds in which objects metamorphose into living things. These images tune in with the world of dreams and nightmares that emanate more from our imaginations than in sculptures, drawings, and paintings made by the artists who worked mainly during the first and the Second World War.
The essential surrealists look at the works of the surrealists in every aspect, from the early artistic influence to the modern works.
Surrealism was the genesis to a style of art that the world had never witnessed before. Ancient techniques were used to paint as well as interpret messages of the subconscious and dream world. The techniques conveyed metaphor and meaning to their work. Even though at first this approach and technique was highly critiqued, it was eventually accepted and made way for other expressive forms of art.
Ades, D., Arts Council of Great Britain., & Hayward Gallery. (1978). Dada and surrealism reviewed. London: Arts Council of Gre
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