Surrealism: works and artists

René Magritte | Il figlio dell’uomo

René Magritte, Il figlio dell’uomo, 1964.


Surrealism, more than an art movement, was a cultural movement, heir of Dadaism.

The Surrealist manifesto, written by André Breton, dates back to 1924, and it affirms that surreal is the only way to reach a superior reality, thanks to the fusion of two realities which characterize the human life: waking life and dream.


Salvador DALI | Magnum Photos

Spanish painter Salvador DALI. “Dali Atomicus.” 1948 / Magnum Photos

When Surrealism developed

Surrealism emerged after XXI out of the Dada movement.
It was above all a literary movement, whose aim was to explore the unconscious, without using rationality and logical thought.

Why Surrealism developed

The word Surrealism, in French surréalisme, was coined by poet Guillame Apollinaire in 1917, with the aim of defining everything coming from the unconscious.
The aim of Surrealism was to give voice to the deepest thoughts of the man and to investigate the unconscious, like Sigmund Freud did, through the artistic expression.

In fact, after the publication of “The Interpretation of Dreams” by Sigmund Freud in 1899, for several artists it was unacceptable that dream (or unconscious) had so little space in the modern civilization.
Surrealism is, therefore, a psychic automatism, which is that process in which the unconscious, that part of us emerging when we sleep, emerges even when we are awake and make us connect free words, thoughts and images without restrains and preordained purposes.

What Surrealism represents

In dreams man can’t control his own thoughts, and, as a consequence, his unconscious is free from any limit and uses symbolic images.
Therefore, visual arts were a perfect instrument to represent best what happens in dreams, so Surrealist artists started experimenting, and created their masterpieces.
The approach to Surrealism was different for each artist, because that was a movement in which personal part prevailed, and where free association of ideas was the pillar of the artistic production.

The leading Surrealist artists

René Magritte: was one of the most important exponents of Surrealism, and he depicted an altered and mysterious reality.

Joan Miró: was the artist of geometric shapes, coloured and suspended in the air.

Max Ernst: was the artist of anthropomorphic figures, unknown animals and settings characterized by symbolic elements.

Salvador Dalì: was the most important Spanish Surrealist painter, and one of the most influential and charismatic personalities in history of contemporary art.
His creativity ranged from painting to cinema and to graphics.

Max Ernst | the sound of silence

Max Ernst, the sound of silence (1943-44).


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