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Genre Spotlight: Surrealism

Friday 13th March 2015

We're going to be starting a new recurring series here at Gallereo, in a similar vein to our Artist Spotlight series, but taking a broader view and looking at artistic genres as a whole. Our hope is that we'll be able to give a bit of a bigger picture of the movements that lie behind and surround some of the world's most popular artists, and maybe even inspire some of you to experiment with new genres that you otherwise might have ignored! To that end, we start the series today with a quick look at Surrealism, that most whimsical and mystifying of all artistic genres.

First getting started in the 1920s in Europe, Surrealism originally had two opposing parties of artists who squabbled over the usage and priority of the term. These arguments got so heated that at one point, the leaders of the two factions, Andre Breton and Yvan Goll, actually got into a physical fight in the middle of the Champs Elysee in Paris, France. Breton's faction eventually proved the stronger, though history does not seem to relate who won the fistfight.

His unique definition of Surrealism also triumphed, as he describes it:
Dictionary: Surrealism, n. Pure psychic automatism, by which one proposes to express, either verbally, in writing, or by any other manner, the real functioning of thought. Dictation of thought in the absence of all control exercised by reason, outside of all aesthetic and moral preoccupation.

Encyclopedia: Surrealism. Philosophy. Surrealism is based on the belief in the superior reality of certain forms of previously neglected associations, in the omnipotence of dream, in the disinterested play of thought. It tends to ruin once and for all other psychic mechanisms and to substitute itself for them in solving all the principal problems of life.

Some of the most famous Surrealist artists are household names, now viewed with reverence: Salvador Dali, Max Ernst, Man Ray, Rene Magritte and Joan Miro, not to mention Andre Breton himself, are names that every art student has run across, and their popularity is still evident in university campuses around the world, who regularly feature shows, film festivals, and other celebrations of the Surrealist canon. Much of what we regard as postmodern has roots and themes that can be traced back to the Surrealist movement, and that leaves much of today's popular art an evolving legacy of the Surrealists. 
 

Posted on March 13th 2015 on 01:01pm

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