Where Did Surrealism Originate? | Characteristics of Surrealism

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Surrealism or the Surrealist movement was based in Paris by a small group of writers and artists who sought to channel the unconscious as a way to unlock the ability of the imagination. Disdaining rationalism and literary realism, and powerfully influenced by Sigmund Freud, the Surrealists believed the conscious thoughts repressed the ability of the imagination, weighting it down with taboos.

Influenced additionally by Karl Marx, they hoped that the psyche had the ability to disclose the contradictions within the everyday world and spur on revolution. Their emphasis on the ability of the imagination places them within the custom of Romanticism, however in contrast to their forbears, they believed that revelations may very well be discovered on the road and in everyday life.

The Surrealist impulse to tap the unconscious thoughts, and their pursuits in myth and primitivism, went on to form  the Abstract Expressionists, and so they stay influential today.

Features of Surrealism

Surrealism has come to be seen as essentially the most influential movement in 20th century art. Figures like Salvador Dalí and Man Ray not solely had an essential affect on avant-garde art, however by way of their commercial work – in vogue pictures, advertising and film – they introduced the style to an enormous widespread audience. Following the demise of Minimalism within the 1960s, the movement’s affect additionally returned to art, and for the reason that in 1970s it has attracted appreciable consideration from art historians.

Surrealism was formally based in 1924, when André Breton wrote Le Manifeste du Surréalisme. In it, he outlined Surrealism as “Psychic automatism in its pure state, by which one proposes to express – verbally, by means of the written word, or in any other manner – the actual functioning of thought.”

Many Surrealists have been ambivalent concerning the prospects of painting, nonetheless, the group’s leader, André Breton, later embraced and promoted portray. The work of Surrealist painters equivalent to Joan Miró can be an essential affect on the Abstract Expressionists within the 1940s.

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Writing Style in Surrealism

The unique Parisian Surrealists organized group activities as a reprieve from violent political conditions and to deal with the unease they felt concerning the world’s uncertainties. Surrealists have been fascinated with exposing the complicated and repressed internal worlds of sexuality, desire, and violence, and curiosity in these matters fostered transgressive conduct. Many of the artists underwent psychoanalysis to check and uproot their latent emotions and behaviors as a treatment for what they believed to be the constraining and repressed codes and morals of society.

The Surrealists generated artistic works that uncovered the artists’ internal minds in weird, symbolic methods with a view to uncover anxieties and to deal with them analytically by way of visual means. The Surrealists depicted dream imagery and archetypal symbols derived from their unconsciousness. The collage aesthetic was vital to the Surrealists, as they believed it tapped into the unconscious by creating unlikely juxtapositions from imagery garnered from widespread traditions. 

One technique that the surrealists used to elicit imagery from the unconsciousness known as the “Exquisite Corpse”. In this collaborative art form, a piece of paper was folded in forth and 4 completely different artists contributed to the representative of a figure without seeing the opposite artist’s contribution. The first drew the head, folded the paper over and handed it onto the next who drew torso, the third drew the legs and the forth, the feet. The artists then unfolded the paper to study the combined figure.

Max Ernest, a German surrealist, invented one other method that used “chance and accident; frottage” by placing pieces of rough wooden or metal beneath a canvas after which painting and penciling the top, the artist transferred the textures the underlying surfaces onto the completed work. In “Laocoon father and son”, Ernest in accorporated likelihood textures by way of frottage, whereas additionally referring to Greek myth of “Laocoon” (a trojan priest who struggled with big python).

Perhaps a crucial method utilized by surrealists to elicit the unconscious is “automation”. In painting, it consisted of allowing the hand to wander throughout the canvas floor with none interference from the conscious thoughts. The resulting marks, it was thought, wouldn’t be random or meaningless, however can be guided at each level by functioning of artist’s unconscious thoughts and never by rational thought or artistic training. Andre’ Mason in 1944 first created portray “The Kill”.

Characteristics of Surrealism

The exploration of the dream and unconsciousness as a legitimate type of reality, impressed by Sigmund Freud’s writings.

A willingness to depict images of perverse sexuality, scatology, decay and violence.

The want to push towards the boundaries of socially acceptable behaviors and traditions with a view to uncover pure thought and the artist’s true nature.

The affect of revolutionary nineteenth century poets, similar to Charles Baudelaire, Arthur Rimbaud and Isidore Ducasse.

Emphasis on the mysterious, marvelous, mythological and irrational in an effort to make art ambiguous and weird.

Fundamentally, Surrealism gave artists permission to specific their most elementary drives: starvation, sexuality, anger, fear, dread, ecstasy, and so forth.

Exposing these uncensored emotions as if in a dream nonetheless exists in lots of type of art to this present day.

Qualities of Surrealist Writings

Juxtaposition of Imagery:

This proposes that the reader ought to make corrections between two opposites in a different gentle.


A cup with a tree

Snake with door

Head with shoe


It refers to connection between two completely different ideas, images and concepts, they’re weird.


the shape of your eyes goes around my heart

They relate eyes with heart.


Surrealists are anti-rationalists where literature ought to reflect that specific way which, irrationality is the most important part of  our identification.


a man might flip into a bird.

a child might turn into a stone.

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