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Surrealism VISUAL ARTS S. RICHARDSON. Surrealism sought to free the imaginative human mind and reveal the unconscious, encouraging radical change and.

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Presentation on theme: "Surrealism VISUAL ARTS S. RICHARDSON. Surrealism sought to free the imaginative human mind and reveal the unconscious, encouraging radical change and."— Presentation transcript:


2 Surrealism sought to free the imaginative human mind and reveal the unconscious, encouraging radical change and rejection to logic and reasoning. Surrealism literally means ‘above and beyond reality’. Key features of Surrealism S. RICHARDSON

3 Key features of Surrealism Surrealist art often shows weird, bizarre, dreamlike subject matter because Surrealist artists were interested in depicting the world of dreams, nightmares, desire, and imagination. Salvador Dalí, The Dream, 1937 S. RICHARDSON

4 Key features of Surrealism The movement began in Paris in the 1920s, partially in reaction to the horrors of World War I and was also influenced by the research and work of Austrian neurologist Sigmund Freud (1856-1939), who founded psychoanalysis. Freud had significant influence on the beliefs and practices of the Surrealists. He believed that our subconscious thoughts are symbolically represented in our dreams and fully understand ourselves, we need to tap into these dreams and messages. Artists, writers and poets were inspired to explore the conscious and subconscious mind. Sigmund Freud S. RICHARDSON

5 Key features of Surrealism Dada was a closely associated movement with the Surrealist’s, which began in Europe around the 1916. Both the Dadaists and Surrealists felt a sense of freedom of expression and were appalled by the horrors of World War I (1914-18). They took a radical, new, anti-art approach that also challenged traditional social and artistic values and rejected rational thought and order. World War II effectively ended organised Surrealist activities in Europe. Many Surrealists took refuge in the United States, where their ideas influenced many younger artists including the Abstract Expressionists. Surrealism continues to influence many artists today. Surrealism developed out of the writings of a poet called Andre Breton (1896-1966). Breton wrote the Manifesto of Surrealism in 1924, which highlighted the importance of the dream state in art & writing. Breton defined 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. Dictated by the thought, in the absence of any control exercised by reason, exempt from any aesthetic or moral concern. Marcel Duchamp, Fountain, 1917 S. RICHARDSON

6 Two main types of Surrealists The first group created artworks that were done automatically, without thought, and were meant to show the workings of the subconscious mind. Freud used a method called ‘free association’ to help patients with mental illness. This idea was adopted by many Surrealists, who painted whatever came into their heads. Artists such as Joan Miro (Spanish, 1893-1983) and Andre Masson (French, 1896-1987) tried to achieve this in their works through abstraction and without reference to objects, people, places or things. Andre Masson, Automatic Drawing, 1924 Joan Miro, La Leçon de Ski, 1966

7 The second group, which included artists such as Salvador Dali (Spanish, 1904-1989) and Rene Magritte (Belgian, 1898-1967), used very familiar everyday objects painted in a formal, realistic style and juxtapositions them in unexpected places that were impossible, the way things may occur in a dream. Rene Magritte, Golconde, 1953 Salvador Dali, One second before awakening from a dream caused by the flight of a bee around a pomegranate, 1944

8 Salvador Dali Dalí’s approach to surrealism is described as a spontaneous method of irrational behaviour. Dalí uses realistic items to reveal his dreamlike images. His paintings are executed with great care and often depict recognizable objects in great detail and are usually placed in unrealistic situations, often using distortion. Dali sought personal frame and was often outrageous in his life. Dali felt he had to live his life in a surreal manner in order to be a surreal artist. He once gave a press conference with a boiled lobster on his head and went to a costume party dressed as a rotting corpse.

9 Salvador Dalí, Persistence of Memory, 1931 How many clocks can you count in Persistence of Memory? What is surreal about this painting?

10 Rene Magritte Magritte often used everyday objects and transformed them, linking back to the initial function of the object. His ability to capture the form and paint realistically was important. Magritte paints Son of Man as a self-portrait with a suspended apple, defying gravity. In the rest of the setting, the brick wall, sea and sky are normal. How could you interpret this painting using ideas of psychoanalysis? What could the apple be hiding— literally and philosophically? S. RICHARDSON

11 Rene Magritte, The Son of Man, 1964 S. RICHARDSON


13 Ceci n’est pas une pipe At first glance you disregard the inscription, but then you allow yourself to contemplate a little more and then… the light bulb turns on. It is as said, not a pipe but a representation of it. This painting challenges us to value critical knowledge and processing. As humans, we visualize images and language but almost never differentiate between the idea of “representations” vs. reality. Humans have this amazing capability of critically thinking, of understanding the idea of individuality. What is fascinating is how often we discard our “critical thinking cap” as we are bombarded with representations of reality. S. RICHARDSON


15 TASK Rene Magritte Empire of Light Critically assess this painting. What did you ‘see’ first? After contemplating what do you now ‘see’? What is not right about this scene? How has Magritte achieved this deception? Why do you think it is important to develop critical thinking in Visual Arts? S. RICHARDSON

16 Miró was influenced by surrealist poetry, writing and automatism. He created paintings, ceramic sculpture and sets for theatre and dance. The Potato is a playful artwork involving the elements of shape, movement and colour to suggest form and space. There is a linear, floating and spatial quality where partially identifiable organic forms interact. S. RICHARDSON

17 Joan Miro, The Potato, 1928 S. RICHARDSON

18 James Gleeson James Gleeson is an Australian surrealist artist who was influenced by the psychoanalytic theories of Freud as well as of Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung and André Breton.. For more than six decades James Gleeson has worked in Surrealism, exploring the possibilities beyond the obvious and everyday objects juxtapositioned with alternative realities experienced through dreams, hallucinations, and differing mental states. Rather than focusing on purely private fantasies, the most significant contributions made by Surrealist artists, including James Gleeson, are the visionary and profound statements that comment on the human condition. S. RICHARDSON

19 James Gleeson,Sentinels of the Late Season, 1987 S. RICHARDSON

20 James Gleeson, Fire, 1995 S. RICHARDSON


22 TASK Salvador Dali Find 4 examples of his work and create a work sheet, including the titles and dates, for your VAPD Choose one of these and write a story or narrative explaining what you believe the ‘dream’ depicted in the artwork was about. Describe the artwork what do you see? What colours have been used? Your explanation needs to be half a page of writing. S. RICHARDSON

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