Surrealism Essay, Research Paper
In 1924 a French poet and critic Andre Breton published “The Surrealist Manifesto,” which lead as a starter to the surrealist movement. Nicolas Pioch, a famous art historian, maintains that “the surrealist movement represented a reaction against what its members saw as the destruction wrought by the rationalism that had guided European culture and politics in the past and that had culminated in the horrors of World War I. Surrealism was a means of reuniting conscious and unconscious realms of experience so completely that the world of dream and fantasy would be joined to the everyday rational world in an absolute reality, a surreality ” (qtd. in Koshevoy 1). Surrealism brought new life to the art world between World War I and World War II.
“In The Surrealist Manifesto Breton suggested that rational thought was repressive to the powers of creativity and imagination and thus inimical to artistic expression. An admirer of Sigmund Freud and his concept of the subconscious, Breton felt that contact with this hidden part of the mind could produce poetic truth”
(Surrealism 1). Andre Breton soon recognized the kinship between his literary aims and the artistic aims of certain painters fascinated by Freudian concepts. In 1925, with Breton s encouragement, the first group exhibition of surrealist painting took place in Paris. Among those were Joan Miro and Pablo Picasso (Surrealism 3).
Surrealism is a modern movement in visual art, literature and society, flourishing in Europe between World War I and World War II. It grew mostly out of the earlier dada movement. Surrealism affirmed the supremacy of the unconscious over the conscious, and preferred allegorical composition to the shallow imitation of nature. Dealing with the fantastic , every painting conjured up a dream world inhabited by unworldly mysterious figures, elongated objects, melting watches and unexplained shadows entering the field of vision (Cusimano, INTORDUCTION 2). In painting a sculpture surrealism is one of the leading influences of the twentieth century. Surrealists often employed abstract and fantastic shapes and forms, with a great variety of content and technique ( Surrealism, Microsoft Encarta 1).
Surrealism grew principally out of the earlier Dada movement, which before World War I produced works of anti-art that deliberately defied reason. Dada or Dadaism ( French, from dada, child s word for a horse) was a Nihilistic movement in the arts that flourished chiefly in France, Switzerland, and Germany from about 1916 to about 1920 and that was based on the principles of deliberate irrationality, anarchy, and cynicism and the rejection of laws of beauty and social organization (Buell 1). Dada was originated by Tzara, the German writer Hugo Ball, the Alsatian born artist Jean Arp, and other intellectuals living in Zurich, Switzerland ( Dadaism, Microsoft Encarta 1). Dadaism is a movement of art deeply involved with the political, intellectual, and social conditions of life. The movement is characterized by expressive forms and a metaphysical quality, but is still concentrated on the realities of life. Collage and montage are qualities of Dadaism, enhancing the sense of a magical or futuristic view of life. Irony and sarcasm are evident in this work, as are the juxtaposition of seemingly unrelated subject matter. One can see the importance of the contrast between light and dark, colors, perspective, and shape. The ultimate use of space is noticeable as well (Bryan and Bazemore 1).
Dadaism inspired surrealism and another, cubism. Cubism is a contemporary, highly formalistic movement which is characterized by the geometric representation of realistic objects or features. (Pioch 1). Cubism is a movement in modern art, especially painting, that was primarily concerned with abstract forms rather than lifelike representation. It began in Paris about 1908, reached its height by 1914, and developed further in the 1920 s. Cubism was a revolt against the sentimental and realistic traditional painting of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and against the emphasis on light and color effects and the lack of form characteristic of impressionism. It drew inspiration from tribal art, especially that of Africa and Oceania ( Cubism, Microsoft Encarta 1). The doctrines of the cubist school follow the dictum of the French postimpressionist Paul Cezanne. Everything in nature takes its form from the sphere, the cone, and the cylinder, says Cezanne (qtd. in Cubism, Microsoft Encarta 1). The most common type of cubism is an abstract and analytical approach to a subject, in which the artist determines and paints the basic geometric solids of which the subject is composed, in particular the cube or cone, or the basic planes that reveal the underlying geometric forms. In another type of cubist painting (synthetic cubism), views of an object from different angles, not simultaneously visible in life, are arranged into a unified composition. In neither type of cubism is there any attempt to reproduce in detail the appearance of natural objects (Panic Surrealism 2).
One of the most famous cubist painters is Pablo Picasso. Picasso was born on October 25, 1881, in Malaga, Spain, son of an artist, Jose Ruiz, and Maria Picasso. Rather than adopt the common name Ruiz, the young Picasso took the rarer name of his mother ( Biography 1). Picasso is probably the most famous artist of the twentieth century. During his artistic career, which lasted more than seventy-five years, he created thousands of works, not only paintings but also sculptures, prints, and ceramics, using all kinds of materials. He almost single-handedly created modern art. He changed art more profoundly than any other artist of this century. Pablo Picasso was a Spanish painter and sculptor, generally considered the greatest artist of the twentieth centruy. He was unique as an inventor of forms, as an innovator of styles and techniques, as a master of various media, and as one of the most prolific artists in history. He created more than twenty thousand works (Picasso,Pablo Ruiz y, Microsoft Encarta 1). The years of 1901 to 1904, known as the blue period because of the blue tonality of Picasso s paintings were a time of frequent changes of residence between Barcelona and Paris. 1905 to 1906 marked a radical change in color and mood for Picasso. This was known as his rose period. In the 1960 s, he produced a monumental fifty-foot sculpture for the Chicago Civic Center. In 1970, Picasso donated more than eight hundred of his works to the Berenguer de Aguilar Palace Museum in Barcelona. Pablo Picasso died on April 8, 1973 in Mougins, France at the age of ninety-one ( Biography 2).
Picasso painted many wonderful Cubism paintings. Guernica was painted in reaction to the German bombing of the town of Guernica, Spain, ordered by Francisco Franco. The huge oil painting was completed in two months. Picasso chose images he had used previously, such as the minotaur and the dying horse, to represent the anguish and suffering caused by this event. Tete de Femme, also by Picasso, is painted in the cubist style. The surface is broken into a series of small, flat planes of color that create a sense of form and light. Picasso s interest in African mask work can be seen in his handling of the woman s face, which is flattened by stylized. Another of Pablo Picassos paintings was Picasso Drawing . This charcoal drawing by Picasso is a study for one of the paintings done during his blue period, about 1901 to 1904. The elongated figures and the subject matter are characteristics of this period in the artists career (Picasso Drawings Microsoft Encarta 1).
Another surrealist painter is Joan Miro. Miro was one of the foremost exponents of abstract and surrealist art. Miro was born in Montroig, near Barcelona, Spain, on April 20, 1893. He studied at the Barcelona School of Fine Arts and the Academia Gali. From 1924 on he was a key figure in the circle of Andre Breton and other surrealists. Throughout the late 1920 s and 1930 s, Miro experimented with ever freer compositions whose organization results from the interplay of their individual elements rather than from a schema imposed from the outside. Miro also experimented in a wide array of other media, devoting himself to etchings and lithographs for several years in the 1950 s and also working in watercolor, pastel, collage, and paint on copper and masonite. His ceramic sculptures are especially notable, in particular his two large ceramic murals for the UNESCO building in Paris. Miro died in Majorca, Spain, on December 25, 1983 ( Miro, Joan Microsoft Encarta 1).
Through out time there have been many great Surrealist artists. One of the greatest of all time, Salvador Dali, amazed the world with his way to combine illusions with reality. Dali was born on May 11, 1904, in Northeastern Spain. In 1937 he not only painted, but also created one of his most famous paintings, Metamorphosis of Narcissus. Coming from Greek Mythology, the God of Vengeance, Nemesis, in punishment caused Narcissus to die for the love of his own reflection (Ades 8). In 1938 Dali showed this painting to the well-admired Father of Psychology, Sigmund Freud (133). Salvador Dali has also created many other wonderful paintings that are admired by many people through out the world. Dali was an Anarchist for most of his youth, although his father was an atheist and Republican, and his mother a Catholic. His mother died in 1921 and his father married her sister. A year after that Dali entered the School of Fine Arts in Madrid, Spain. Salvador was suspended for a year due to rebellious behavior. In 1926 Dali was permanently expelled from the Academy of Fine Arts. This upset his father because he wanted his son to acquire his baccalaureate before pursuing his chosen profession, an artist (7,8).
“In 1931 Dali was the first one-man show, in France at Pierre Colle Gallery, which included such works as Invisible Man, Invisible Sleeper, Horse, Lion, William Tell and The Persistence of Memory, a year later he was the second one-man show.” (Neret 3).
On June 10, 1982 Gala, Dali s wife, died and he moved into a small castle at Pubol, Spain, which he had given to her and where she was born. In 1983 Salvador Dali painted his last piece of art called the Swallows Tail. On January 23, 1989 Dali died of heart failure. All of his great works were donated to the Spainish State (Ades 206).
In 1937 Salvador Dali not only painted but created one of the most famous surrealist paintings, Metamorphosis of Narcissus. The painting is of a man who fell in love with his own reflection. This man died while trying to reach out into the water and touch his one and only love, which was himself. Coming from Greek Mythology, the God of Vengeance, Nemesis, in punishment caused Narcissus to die for the love of his own reflection.
Salvador Dali wrote a poem about the story of Narcissus: Narcissus in his immobility, absorbed by his reflection with the digestive slowness of carnivorous plants, becomes invisible. All that remains of him is the hallucinatory oval of whiteness of his head, his head more tender again, his head, chrysalis of biological after-thoughts, his head held up at the tips of the fingers of water (187).
Another extraordinary painting by Dali is The Persistence of Memory, which ranks as of the most famous paintings of the twentieth century. Dali s paintings from this period depict dream imagery and everyday objects in unexpected forms, such as the famous limp watches in The Persistence of Memory, which was created in 1931. The Persistence of Memory was one of Dali s best know works. The painting shows limp, soft watches hanging off of a tree and Plateau. It also had mountains in the background, as in many of Dali s paintings. The mountains represents Dali s hometown because where he grew up was very mountainous. Dali referred to The Persistence of Memory as hand-painted dream photographs, and claimed that his imagery often came directly from his own dreams. The strange form in this painting s foreground, however, is based on an image from Hieronymus Bosh s The Garden of Earthly Delights ( The Persistence of Memory Microsoft Encarta 1).
Minotaure was another paiting by Salvador Dali. In Albert Skeer s review, Minotaure, by Salvador Dali which appeared from 1933 to 1939, was not only an extraordinary demonstration of the surrealist imagination, but, in its privileging of the mythic figure of the minotaur. As the principal theme of its covers, it successfully painted the collage of detritus that defines the disappearing postmodern subject. The covers of Minotaure are a brilliant cryptology of the key social codes governing the contemporary human condition (Panic Surrealism 1). The myth of the minotaur centers on the white bull, imprisoned in the labyrinth at Crete, which was created form the sea by Poseidon. In Greek mythology, the minotaur was a monstrous double, sometimes with the head of a bull and the body of a man or, conversely, with the body of a bull and the head of a man, which was offered adolescents as sacrifices by Minos, the king. Being neither fully human, animal, or god, the ambiguity of the figure of the minotaur placed it outside the conventional bounds of norms of morals and reason. This was, indeed, a monstrous double which could be so important to the european surrealist movement because its mythology inscribed both the violence of the last sacrificial rites and cultural alterity (part bull/part man) as the foundational text of western society (2).
These are just a few of the paintings by Salvador Dali who is one of the most greatest surrealist painters in the world. There are also many other surrealists that have touched the world with their abilities to produce works of art in several different media, such as sculpting, painting and drawing. In painting and sculpture surrealism is one of the leading influences of the twentieth century. Surrealist painting exhibits great variety of content and technique. The surrealist painters have looked to the past for inspiration, to such painters of fantasy as Hieronymus Bosch, to the Mannerists, and to the romantic and symbolist movements, as well as to the primitive art and the art of the insane (Surrealism).
Surrealism shocked the world with it s ability to touch and keep on touching all aspects of creative thought, leaving its mark in films, music videos, and commercial display. Next time you go for a walk in the mall look at the displays of suits and dresses on mannequins, shoes that appear to walk on thin air, scarves and other objects that seem to defy the law of gravity. You will realize that such irrational settings, unreasonable it might appear to be, reflects the Surrealist tradition of aesthetic construction, composition, and visual effect (Cusimano, Surrealism 6). Whether or not surrealism has ceased as a movement, its influences can be detected in all the major art movements that have come into being since the World Wars.