What Is Surrealism?
Founded by the poet André Breton in Paris in 1924, Surrealism was an artistic and literary movement. It proposed that the Enlightenment—the influential 17th- and 18th-century intellectual movement that championed reason and individualism—had suppressed the superior qualities of the irrational, unconscious mind. Surrealism’s goal was to liberate thought, language, and human experience from the oppressive boundaries of rationalism.
The Icons of Surrealism
Though Surrealism is indeed most associated with such flamboyant and irreverent figures as Dalí, Breton recruited a wide group of artists and intellectuals already active in Paris to write for and exhibit under his banner.
Surrealism in the Americas
As an interwar movement beginning in Paris in the 1920s, Surrealism responded to a post-World War I period that saw the slow reconstruction of major French cities, the height of the French colonial empire abroad, and the rise of fascism across Europe.
Why Does Surrealism Matter?
Surrealism represents a crucible of avant-garde ideas and techniques that contemporary artists are still using today, including the introduction of chance elements into works of art. These methods opened up a new mode of painterly practice pursued by the
Header image: Salvador Dalí, The Persistence of Memory, 1931. © Salvador Dalí, Fundació Gala-Salvador Dalí, Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York 2016. Image courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art.
Photographs of Joan Miró and Max Ernst via Wikimedia Commons.