Surrealism – a little background

Two forms of using the unconscious to create art became the bedrock of surrealism: Automatism and Oneiric, or dream-like. Surrealism began with the automatic and the likes of Max Ernst, Andre Masson and Joan Miro all used collage, frottage and grattage as ways of creating patterns and forms turned into something unworldly. Ernst explored the use of collage in works such as ‘Here Everything is Still Floating’ (1920) randomly putting together images to create a different dimension. Image result for Here Everything is Still Floating

Miro’s use of grattage could be said to be the more successful in creating a more primative musing on canvas and work such as ‘The King’s Madness’ of 1926 were created by pushing paint along the canvas with a rag, adding shapes and lines seen in his dreams.

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From the 1930s, the move into more dream-like landscapes and scenarios: the oneiric, occurred.  Deeply inspired by the metaphysical landscapes of De Chirico, the surrealists, of whom Dali was now a member, would take the pyschoanalytic  theories of Freud to new levels.  Empty landscapes, strong architectureal features along with symbols such as dripping clocks to represent time, eggs to signal birth, strange creatures and the like, all created a sense of bewilderment in the viewer and signalled a change in surrealist art.

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A work that demonstrates the surrealist ideas set forth by Breton and combines the two forms is Ernst’s ‘The Attirement of the Bride’ (1940). A densely patterned fur cape of the bride is created by decalcomania, contrasting with the smooth naked flesh of Ernst’s lover, fellow artist, Leonora Carrington. The phallic symbolism of the spear carried by the nightmarish bird-man of Ernst’s alter-ego, Loplop adds to the dream-like state of the work.

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