Surrealism in Art – What You Should Know Before Buying a Surrealist Picture
Surrealism is one of the most important painting styles of the 20th century. The influence of Surrealism reaches far into contemporary art. Surrealist pictures often show recognisable references to reality but usually take them to absurdity by means of an alienated representation. However, painting that is completely free-associated and controlled by the subconscious is another aspect of surrealist art. Even today, Surrealism is very popular among the public. Entire art houses are dedicated to it, for example, the Max Ernst Museum in Brühl, the Surrealism Museum in Krefeld or "Dalí – The Exhibition at Potsdamer Platz" in Berlin. You can buy pictures in the Surrealist style in our online shop.
From Literature to Fine Art – the Beginnings of Surrealism
Surrealism had its origins in literature. In 1924, the French writer André Breton published the "Surrealist Manifesto", which was to become the standard work for literature and the visual arts alike. Breton believed in a fusion of dream and reality into a new form of reality, "surreality". The perception of reality and reality itself were questioned. Surrealism took hold of intellectuals all over Europe. Sigmund Freud and his psychoanalysis, in which he elaborated on the significance of the unconscious and subconscious, contributed to the content of the movement. From the mid-1920s onwards, many painters and sculptors used various techniques to implement the ideas of Surrealism in their art.
A World Above the World – the Characteristics of Surrealism
In the literal sense, Surrealism deals with states "above reality". The Surrealists explicitly did not want to depict the objective reality surrounding them with their artworks. They rather drew inspiration for their works from various psychic phenomena and thus from within the human being. The subject of Surrealist painting became the unconscious, fantasies, visions, the irrational, dreams, urges or states of intoxication – in other words, all areas of the human psyche that cannot be actively and consciously controlled. From the free, uninhibited, and uncontrolled flow of thoughts, the surrealists hoped to gain access to an alternative and purer reality. Their artistic practice attempted to transfer their spontaneous associations directly to their works. They hoped for artistic inspiration by working half asleep and under the influence of alcohol and drugs, among other things. Some artists even drew inspiration from neurotic and paranoid states. The works of Surrealist art that emerged through these means were said to be closest to the dreamy and irrational.
The Two Schools: Veristic and Absolute Surrealism
Surrealist artists can be divided into two major schools: The works of "Veristic Surrealism" usually feature concrete and recognisable objects of external reality. However, through unusual contexts, alienation and distorted representation of the objects, the overall composition appeared illogical and irrational. The play with reality was intended to take the viewers to the limits of their understanding and make them doubt their perception. Among the representatives of this school were artists such as Salvador Dalí and René Magritte. In contrast, so-called "Absolute Surrealism" had abandoned any reference to reality. Its representatives relied entirely on the absence of reason and logic and allowed the subconscious to take control of the artistic creative process. Artists such as Joan Miró or Hans Arp cultivated automatic actions in their works of art and worked predominantly with spontaneous and abstract forms.