There is more to surrealism than Salvador Dali’s mustache or people wearing lobsters on their heads. The movement, started one hundred years ago, was founded on the idea that creativity could be accessed by lessening the controls of the conscious brain, and giving free rein to the unconscious. Today’s neuroscience supports their thinking: There is evidence that imagination and day-dreaming takes place when we are not focusing our conscious attention.
In design and innovation projects, we are always trying to understand constraints, eliminate uncertainty, and ground ourselves in the problem. But in any creative exercise, there is always a moment when the individual or the team needs to take a leap. And when that leap happens, you want it to be as dramatic, confident, and exploratory as possible. Put another way: There is a moment in any creative process when you actually want to maximize uncertainty. The Surrealist methods were aimed at achieving this, by embracing randomness and accessing the unconscious.
Cut-and-pasted gelatin silver prints, cut-and-pasted printed paper, pencil, and pencil frottage on paper, 19 3/4 x 13 1/4вЂі (50.1 x 33.6 cm). Purchase. В© 2012 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris
Strategies of writing or creating art that aimed to access the unconscious mind. The Surrealists, in particular, experimented with automatist techniques of writing, drawing, and painting.
Leonora Carrington is regarded as a both a key figure in the Surrealist movement and the artist of remarkable individuality. Just like other Surrealists, she was interested in the unconscious mind and dream imagery. Her art is characterized by dreamlike and fantastical compositions of fantastical creatures. Creating otherworldly settings, she employed a highly personal symbolism that she preferred not to explain. Exploring the idea of sexual identity, she rejected the frequent Surrealist stereotypes that depicted women as objects od desire. Depicting fantastic beasts and having themes of metamorphosis, identity , and magic as recurring, she blends various cultural influences such as Celtic literature, Renaissance painting, Central American folk art, medieval alchemy, and Jungian psychology.
Featured images: Man Ray, via Pinterest; Man Ray – Glass Tears, 1932
The major Surrealist painters were Jean Arp, Max Ernst, André Masson, René Magritte, Yves Tanguy, Salvador Dalí, Pierre Roy, Paul Delvaux, and Joan Miró. The work of these artists is too diverse to be summarized categorically as the Surrealist approach in the visual arts. Each artist sought his own means of self-exploration. Some single-mindedly pursued a spontaneous revelation of the unconscious, freed from the controls of the conscious mind; others, notably Miró, used Surrealism as a liberating starting point for an exploration of personal fantasies, conscious or unconscious, often through formal means of great beauty. A range of possibilities falling between the two extremes can be distinguished. At one pole, exemplified at its purest by the works of Arp, the viewer is confronted with images, usually biomorphic, that are suggestive but indefinite. As the viewer’s mind works with the provocative image, unconscious associations are liberated, and the creative imagination asserts itself in a totally open-ended investigative process. To a greater or lesser extent, Ernst, Masson, and Miró also followed this approach, variously called organic, emblematic, or absolute Surrealism. At the other pole the viewer is confronted by a world that is completely defined and minutely depicted but that makes no rational sense: fully recognizable, realistically painted images are removed from their normal contexts and reassembled within an ambiguous, paradoxical, or shocking framework. The work aims to provoke a sympathetic response in the viewer, forcing him to acknowledge the inherent “sense” of the irrational and logically inexplicable. The most direct form of this approach was taken by Magritte in simple but powerful paintings such as that portraying a normal table setting that includes a plate holding a slice of ham, from the centre of which stares a human eye. Dalí, Roy, and Delvaux rendered similar but more complex alien worlds that resemble compelling dreamlike scenes.
The major Surrealist painters were Jean Arp, Max Ernst, André Masson, René Magritte, Yves Tanguy, Salvador Dalí, Pierre Roy, Paul Delvaux, and Joan Miró. Frida Kahlo and Pablo Picasso are sometimes included on this list but they never officially joined the Surrealist group. Each artist sought his or her own means of self-exploration. In the poetry of André Breton, Paul Éluard, Pierre Reverdy, and others, Surrealism manifested itself in a juxtaposition of words that was startling because it was determined not by logical but by psychological—that is, unconscious—thought processes.
A twentieth-century literary, philosophical and artistic movement that explored the workings of the mind, championing the irrational, the poetic and the revolutionary
Attractive to writers, artists, photographers and filmmakers from around the world who shared this aggressive rejection of conventional artistic and moral values, surrealism quickly became an international movement. It exerted enormous impact on the cultural life of many countries in the interwar years and later.