Compare and Contrast of Surrealism and Expressionism

Topics: Surrealism, Modernism, Expressionism Pages: 7 (1988 words) Published: June 24, 2013
Comparison/ Contrast of Surrealism and Expressionism


Fidencio Davalos,

ART 110: Art Appreciation


Surrealism is a period in art history when artists created dreamlike paintings filled with mysterious objects or familiar objects that have been oddly changed in ways that one would not see in reality (Kleiner, F., 2000). It is a style of art, where objects are realistically painted. The art looks real with light shadows, and details, but the way they are arranged or the way their shape is altered makes them look dreamlike, and therefore, beyond real (Kleiner, F., 2000).

Roots of Surrealism

The Surrealist movement started in France in the 1920’s. According to my research, its roots were found in Dada, but it was less violent and more artistically based. Surrealism was first the work of poets and writers (Diehl, G., 1986). The French poet, André Brenton, is known as the “Pope of Surrealism.” Brenton wrote the Surrealist Manifesto to describe how he wanted to combine the conscious and subconscious into a new “absolute reality” (Diehl, G., 1986). He first used the word surrealism to describe work found to be a, “fusion of elements of fantasy with elements of the modern world to form a kind of superior reality.” He also described it as “spontaneous writing” (Diehl, G., 1986). The first exhibition of surrealist painting was held in 1925, but its ideas were rejected in Europe (Diehl, G., 1986). Brenton set up an International Exhibition of Surrealism in New York, which then took the place of Paris as the center of the Surrealist movement. Soon surrealist ideas were given new life and became an influence over young artists in the United Sates and Mexico. The ideas of Surrealism were bold and new to the art world (Diehl, G., 1986).

Definition of Surrealism

Surrealism is defined as “Psychic automatism in its pure state by which we propose to express- verbally, in writing, or in any other manner- the real process of thought. The dictation of thought, in the absence of any control exercised by reason and outside any aesthetic or moral concerns” (Balakian, A., 1986). In other words, the general idea of Surrealism is nonconformity. This nonconformity was not as extreme as that of Dada since surrealism was still considered to be art. Brenton said that “pure psychic automatism” was the most important principle of Surrealism. He believed that true surrealists had no real talent; they just spoke their thoughts as they happened (Balakian, A., 1986). Surrealism used techniques that had never been used in the art world before. Surrealists believed in the innocent eye, that art was created in the unconscious mind. Most Surrealists worked with psychology and fantastic visual techniques, basing their art on memories, feelings, and dreams (Balakian, A., 1986). They often used hypnotism and drugs to venture into the dream world, where they looked for unconscious images that were not available in the conscious world (Balakian, A., 1986). These images were seen as pure art. Such ventures into the unconscious mind lead Brenton to believe that surrealists equaled scientists and could “lead the exploration into new areas and methods of investigation” (Balakian, A., 1986). Types of Surrealism

Freud inspired many Surrealists, but two different interpretations of his ideas lead to two different types of Surrealists, Automatists and Veristic Surrealists. • Automatists focused their work more on feeling and were less investigative. They believed automatism to be “the automatic way in which the images of the subconscious reach the conscious” (Kleiner, F., 2000). However they did not think the images had a meaning or should try to be interpreted. Automatists thought that abstract art was the only way to convey images of the subconscious, and that a lack of form was a way to rebel against traditional art. In this way they were much like Dadaists (Kleiner, F., 2000). • Veristic...
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