It is characterized by fantasy imagery and incongruous, juxtapositions such as we may recognize from dream but not from real life. Surrealism originated in the late 1910s and early 1920s as a literary movement that experimented with a new mode of expression called automatic writing, or automatism, which sought to release the unbridled imagination of the subconscious.

A Movement in visual art and literature that was active in the 1920s till 1930s who flourished in Europe between World War I and II.

Surrealist poets were at first reluctant to align themselves with visual artists because they believed that the laborious processes of painting, drawing, and sculpting were at odds with the spontaneity of uninhibited expression.

Max Ernst (1891-1976)

A German painter, sculptor, graphic artist who was one of the leading advocates of irrationality in art and an originator of the Automatism movement of Surrealism but also was a primary  pioneer of the Dada movement as well.

His youthful interest were psychiatry and philosophy, but he abandoned his studies at the University of Bonn for painting.


e9722045e7398b5dca4b4119bfe7e0aa.jpgYoung Max Ernst Portrait


Man Ray (1890-1976)

He was a photographer, painter and a film maker who was the only American to play a major role in both the Dada and Surrealist movements.


Rene Magritte (1898-1967)

The Belgium artist was one of the most prominent Surrealist painters whose bizarre flights of fancy blended horror, peril, comedy and mystery. His works were characterized by particular symbols by the female torso, the bourgeois, the bowler hat, the castle, the rock, the windows and many others.

One of his most notable work was ‘The Son of Man’ painting. It consisted of a man in a formal coat and a bowler hat standing in front of a wall that beyond there was the sea and a cloudy weather. The painting was a self-portrait of himself, Rene Magritte. The man’s face is largely obscured by a green apple. However, the man’s eyes can be seen peeking over the edge of the apple. Another noticeable thing is that the man’s left arm appears to bend backwards at the elbow.

sonofman.jpgThe Son of Man Painting


Salvador Dalí (1904-1989)

Spanish surrealist painter and print maker who influenced for his explorations of subconscious imagery. He was a skilled draftsman who was best known for the striking and bizarre images in his surrealist work. His skills are attributed to the influence of Renaissance masters.

His most important work is ‘The Persistence of Memory’ on oil on canvas, which was completed in 1931. Dalí’s expansive artistic repertoire included film, sculpture, and photography, in collaboration with a range of artists in a variety of media.

the-persistence-of-memory-1931.jpgThe Persistence of Memory

Although it was conjectured that the soft melting watches were the result of Dali’s interpretation of the theory of relativity, Dali himself state that their inspiration was cheese melting under the sun.



James Voorhies – Department of European Paintings, The Metropolitan Museum of Art – October 2004


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