Surrealism Movement: Facts About Influential Artists

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Surrealism, meaning “above realism”, emerged as a 20th century art-cultural movement which allowed artists to explore creativity beyond limitations, putting forward the thoughts of the “unconscious mind”, a state only said to exist in the world of imagination. The age, today, is best known for its visual artworks and writings which the Surrealists developed then, all above the rational world. To describe, André Breton said, “it only allows for the consideration of those facts relevant to our experience”.

The whole idea was “to resolve the previously contradictory conditions of dream and reality.” Paintings developed a new level of technique portraying irrational scenes, eccentric creatures depicting unnerving scenes, photographic precision and interesting replica of everyday objects, offering elements of astonishment, unforeseen juxtapositions and non sequitur.

The movement originated out of the Dada activities (Dadaism), an art movement of the European avant-garde, precisely during the World War I, Paris playing the epicentre of it. However, both the movements were different from each by the method of opposition. Dadaists intended to mug the founding with a negativity angle; however the Surrealists had a more creative and positive approach.

In a short span of time, the movement quickly spread around the world, changing the meaning of visual arts, film, literature and music.

Influential Artists who contributed towards the movement:

1. André Breton (19 February 1896 – 28 September 1966): is known as the founder of Surrealism. He was a French writer and poet who also wrote “The Surrealist Manifesto” in 1924, which defined surrealism as “pure psychic automatism”.

2. Salvador Dalí (11 May 1904 – 23 January 1989): a prominent Spanish surrealist painter, skilled draftsman, best known for his striking and bizarre images. His repertoire also included photography, films and sculpture.

3. Man Ray (27 August 1890 – 18 November 1976): an American visual artist and painter, best known for his informal contribution to the Dada and Surrealist movements. He was a renowned fashion and portrait photographer, noted for his work with photograms, termed as “rayographs”.

4. Joan Miró i Ferrà (20 April 1893 – 25 December 1983): a Catalan, Spanish painter, sculptor, and ceramicist. He has earned international commendation for his Surrealism work, considered “as a sandbox for the subconscious mind, a re-creation of the childlike, and a manifestation of Catalan pride”.

5. Giorgio de Chirico (10 July 1888 – 20 November 1978): an Italian artist who founded the scuola metafisica art movement, which extremely influenced the surrealists. He is also the founder of the school of Metaphysical Art.

6. Max Ernst (2 April 1891 – 1 April 1976): a German painter, graphic artist, sculptor and a poet. He was the chief pioneer of the Dada movement and Surrealism.

7. Alberto Giacometti (10 October 1901 – 11 January 1966): best known for his “Walking Man” sculpture which sold for over $104 million. Besides being a Swiss sculptor, draughtsman and printmaker, he was a well-known post-Impressionist painter. He also won the “Grand Prize for Sculpture” at the 1962 Venice Biennale Art Exhibition.

8. Marcel Duchamp (28 July 1887 – 2 October 1968): was a French artist who is said to have been involved in both the Dadaist and Surrealist movements. He was also associated with Cubism. He, along with Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse, is regarded as one of the three artists who helped to define the revolutionary developments in the plastic arts.

9. Rene Magritte (21 November 1898 – 15 August 1967): was a Belgian surrealist artist, well known for a number of amusing and thought-provoking images. Some of his famous works include “The Son of Man”, “The Treachery of Images”, and “The Human Condition”.

10. Raymond Georges Yves Tanguy (5 January 1900 – 15 January 1955): was a French surrealist painter, better known for his abstract landscapes that used limited colors.

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