Despite the fact that he was later kicked out of the Surrealist group (it seems for being “too Surrealist”), Antonin Artaud (1896-1948) left a heavy mark on the art movement. The French poet, playwright and theatre director was initially very close with Breton but he soon took the ideals of his Surrealist Manifesto to the extreme. He developed the so-called Theatre of Cruelty, an experimental theatre that sought to trigger unconscious reactions from the audience and targeted all five senses. Artaud is also remembered for writing scenario for the first Surrealist movie “The Seashell and the Clergyman” which premiered in 1928.
Like many artists of his time, Joan Miro (1893-1983) experimented with several avant-garde styles including Fauvism, Cubism, the so-called Magical realism and of course, Surrealism. One of the leading figures of this art movement, however, didn’t want to be associated with any particular art style and refused to join Breton’s Surrealist group. Instead, he chose to continue to experiment not only with art styles but with art media as well. Nonetheless, Surrealism had a major influence on the work of the Catalan painter and sculptor who was also one of the first artists to use automatic drawing. The latter was a very popular method of expressing the subconscious by the Surrealists.
In an era traumatised by the ravages of the First World War, many artists sought to create a new kind of reality to make sense of the world. Especially interested in psychic theories, Surrealists used their dreams, the subconscious mind and their stream of consciousness to create their art. In this article, discover iconic as well as lesser-known paintings that have contributed to Surrealism’s influence.
The American Surrealist painter Kay Sage depicted surreal atmospheres, which feel haunting and ghostly. As her painting I Saw Three Cities demonstrates, her work largely differed from the other women Surrealist. Her universe remained obscure, impenetrable and nihilistic throughout her artistic career. In this painting, she mixes the fluidity of drapery, recalling Ancient Greek aesthetic, with harsh geometric shapes. This contrast creates a tension between modernity and classical art.
Birthplace: Spain, Figueres
Associated periods or movements: Dada, Cubism, Surrealism
Featured image: Leonora Carrington – Ulu’s Pants, 1952 via mysearchformagic © Estate of Leonora Carrington / ARS
Featured image: André Breton – Egg in the Church or the Snake, 1932 via weheartit.com
A celebrated surrealist Belgian painter, Rene Magritte created works that are beautiful in their clarity and simplicity, but also provoke unsettling thoughts. Having an idiosyncratic approach to Surrealism, he avoided stylistic distractions of most modern painting, settling on a deadpan, illustrative technique that clearly articulated the content of the work. He described his works as visible images that conceal nothing, but evoke mystery. Featuring everyday objects placed in unusual contexts and juxtapositions, his art challenges the assumptions of human perception and force the viewer to reconsider things usually taken for granted. Often employing interactions of textual and visual signs, he created works that often share a certain mystery that characterizes much of his Surrealist work.
Featured images: Man Ray, via Pinterest; Man Ray – Glass Tears, 1932
Yves Tanguy was a self-taught Paris-born Surrealist painter. Tanguy’s paintings are eerie, illogical and unique. They portray vast, dream-like landscapes populated by strange, abstract shapes, rocks and metallic formations. Solitude, emptiness and helplessness are recurring themes, which he painted in a limited palette of colors. He also used psychiatric textbooks to get inspiration for the title of his works.
Max Ernst was a self-taught German-born Surrealist. His fascination with psychiatry and his traumatic experiences during World War I had a huge impact on his visual work. His paintings usually depict apocalyptic scenes and an illogical world. He is one of the first artists to investigate his subconscious and apply Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams. Ernst also developed his own unique techniques: collage, frottage and grattage.
The Tilled Field (1923)
Other Famous Works:-