Surrealism is a twentieth century avant-garde art movement that developed out of the nihilistic ideas of the Dadaist. Led by the French writer Andre Breton, who wrote The Surrealist Manifesto in 1924. The surrealists were inspired by the thoughts and visions of the subconscious mind. According to Breton, surrealism reunited the realms of dream and fantasy, and linked them to the everyday rational world to create “an absolute reality, a surreality”.
Portraying dreamlike fantasies, surrealist works are characterized by a realistic, irrational style. This is best epitomized in the works of the Spanish Salvador Dali and Belgian artist Rene Magritte. These artist are said to have been inspired by the rules of Symbolism and the spontaneous abstract style of Max Ernst. The Surrealist invented impulsive approaches to art making that were bassed upon the psychotherapeutic procedure of “free associations”. While Max Ernst created poignant, semi-abstract forms, Dali and Rene Magritte painted their dreamlike imagines in a realistic style while using their own paranoiac-critical methods. Dream inspired symbols such as melting watches and huge metronomes came to define the works of these artists.
Salvador Dali, one of the most famous Surrealist artists, was known for his wild art and a public personality to match. Dali’s art was known for its realistic qualities. He used multiple symbolic images to suggest his subconscious. His paintings were odd, influenced by his dreams and his fear of sex. This fear was present in many of his works, which depict sexual and violent images.(On the left Salvador Dali)
First from the left: ‘Down the Rabbit Hole’, ‘The Mad Tea Party’ and ‘Advice from cattepillar’ by Salvador Sali, 1904-1989. Paintings from Alice in Wonderland fairy tale.
René Magritte, a Surrealist artist, used traditional techniques to paint very realistic images. As a poster and wallpaper designer, he learned to paint realistically. His art frequently depicted images of everyday life; however, he creatively changed some aspects to give his work certain meaning. Magritte’s own image, dressed in a dark suit and bowler hat, frequently appeared in his work. Many of his paintings had sinister and violent meanings, and the importance of surroundings was often stressed.
From left to right: Rene Magritte himself and ‘The Son of Man’ by Rene Magritte, 1898- 1967.
Although many Surrealist painters studied traditional art, Max Ernst (above) was a self-taught painter. He felt that true subconscious art was the images in the minds.
‘Approaching Puberty’ by Max Ernst (1921)
‘Elephant celebes’ by Max Ernst (1921)
Frida Kahlo de Rivera was a Mexican painter who is perhaps best known for her self-portraits. Mexican culture and traditions were important in her work, which has been sometimes characterized as Naive art or Folk art. Her work has also been described as “surrealist”, and in 1938 André Breton, principal initiator of the surrealist movement, described Kahlo’s art as a “ribbon around a bomb”.She suffered lifelong health problems, many of which derived from a traffic accident during her years as a teenager. These issues are represented in her works, many of which are self-portraits of one sort or another. Kahlo suggested, “I paint myself because I am so often alone and because I am the subject I know best”.
‘Diego in my thoughts’ by Frida Kahlo (1943)
Giuseppe Arcimboldo was an Italian painter. Arcimboldo’s conventional work, on traditional religious subjects, has fallen into oblivion, but his portraits of human heads (made entirely of such objects as fruits, vegetables, flowers, fish, and books) were greatly admired by his contemporaries and remain a source of fascination today.
Arcimboldo is known as a mannerist in the 16th century. The Mannerist tended to show close relationship between human and nature. Art critics debate whether his paintings were whimsical or the product of a deranged mind. However, given the Renaissance fascination with riddles, puzzles, and the bizarre, Arcimboldo was far from being mentally imbalanced, catered to the taste of his times. (On the left Giuseppe Arcimboldo)
The Mannerism was a transitional period from 1520 to 1590, which adopted some artistic elements from the High Renaissance and influenced the other elements in the Baroque period . These days his work are included in surrealism field, cause of his art’s nature: At a distance, his portraits looked like normal human portraits. However, individual objects in each portrait were actually overlapped together to make various anatomical shapes of a human. They were carefully constructed by his imagination. By using the everyday objects, the portraits were decoration and still life paintings at the same time.
Symbolism flourished as an art movement between 1885 and 1910. Symbolist art rejected both Realism and Impressionism and served to extend the private movement of Decadence and Romantic tradition of mysticism and intense emotion. Symbolists were driven by a desire to create evocative images rather than works that were directly descriptive. According to the movement, the connotations and concept of a work was more important than its artistic style and form. With Symbolism playing an important role in religious art and psychoanalysis, it can be said that Symbolist painters used mythological symbols and dream imagery to create a visual language of the soul.
Symbolists painted obscure images of nature, human activities and other elements of the real world in a highly metaphorical and suggestive manner. Symbolism had a significant influence on many subsequent art movements including Modernism, Aestheticism, Expressionism and Surrealism. The work of the Symbolists directly impacted on the curvilinear forms of the contemporary Art Nouveau, and their exploration of dreamlike subjects is also seen to have acted as a precursor of the Surrealists.
Gerhard Hugo Simberg was a renowned Finnish painter and graphic artist. He is one of the well known Finnish artist, symbolism Principle Names. He brought Gallen-Kallela along with symbolism ideas for Finnish art and experimented with new trends in European art in the early 1900s. He painted the devil characters, death-themes and visions of nature seemingly clumsy, naive style, but also used the warm realism. His imaginative fairy tale world shows the topic of sustainability. For other artists, the symbolism was a passing phase, but Simberg for it was the most natural mode of expression.
‘Two passengers’ by Hugo Simberg (1901)
‘Death’s garden’ by Hugo Simberg (1906)
Viktor Mikhaylovich Vasnetsov was a Russian artist who specialized in mythological and historical subjects. He was described as co-founder of folklorist/romanticmodernism in the Russian painting and a key figure of the revivalist movement in Russian art.
In 1880 Vasnetsov painted works on themes of national history, Russian byliny (epic folk songs), and folk fairy tales; to these themes he later devoted virtually all his creative energy. Vasnetsov tried to give his works an epic quality and express ancient national ideals and lofty patriotic feelings in a poetic form.
Vasnetsov’s mature painting, which was distinguished by a striving for a monumental, decorative artistic expression and a muted resonance of patches of color and sometimes drew on symbolism, anticipated the “modern” style that later became common in Russia. Vasnetsov also did a number of illustrations for The Songs of Prophetic Oleg. His drawings were the basis for the construction of a church and the fairy tale “Hut on Chicken Feet” in Abramtsevo (near Moscow, 1883) and the façade of the Tret’iakov Gallery (1902). In the Soviet period Vasnetsov continued to work on folk fairy-tale subjects.