Surrealism

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Salvador Dali autosodomized by neofotistou







W


orld War I (1914-1918) was a human catastrophe
that devastated Western civilization and mocked the hope inherent in “modernism”. The sheer volume of the war’s slaughter was beyond belief. The horror of it all destroyed the trust in science, medicine and technology as the golden gateway to a harmonious and peaceful future for humanity. All that was thought to be good had been twisted to the evil purpose of a global war. A global sense of hopefulness was replaced with a global sense of fear and loathing.













The arts community responded with the Dada and Surrealism arts movement, with Dali’s dripping watches on canvas and Bunuel’s shocking sliced eyeballs on film. It was as if the artists were acknowledging that madness still held sway just beneath the surface of everyday rationality. The dream logic of sleeping hours became as much a part of one’s personal narrative as one’s waking perceptions and deductions. The 1920s and 30s were a time when the avant garde in the arts explored and commented upon their perceived meaninglessness of life, and the infinitely jumbled and recombined elements of surrealism became the language of their rebuke of the façade of rationality.










T


oday the radicalism of the surrealist movement in art is mostly gone (although there are still the occasional echoes of the original shocks, like Serrano’s 1987 photograph, “Piss Christ”), but the stylistic influence of surrealism remains indelibly imprinted on the culture, especially in design and advertising. The Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles designed by Frank Gehry is officially labeled “deconstructivist,” a modern aesthetic stepchild of surrealism. Advances in CGI artistry are making almost every beer commercial on TV seem like a free association exercise under influence of mild hallucinogens. This twisting and turning and melting and absurdist juxtapositioning of disassociated objects is the visual legacy of surrealism albeit devoid of its original defining spirit of anger and despair. Our civilization has managed to survive, after all.



We now value surrealism simply for its being so enjoyable in its wildly creative...


weirdness







Ironically, the original meaning of surrealism is now increasingly once again heard in the public discourse. Again this comes in response to horror—this time with the advent of senseless acts of terrorism in our cities and towns. Witnesses at the Boston Marathon bombing numbly described the event as “surreal,” when unable to describe something that couldn’t possibly have happened, yet in fact had just happened. “Like being in a bad dream, waiting to wake up.” The 9/11 disaster was repeatedly called “surreal,” describing an impossible horror having just become reality. Such was the original fire that burned in the hearts of the original surrealist artists. Betrayed by the promise of peace and human progress, they retreated into their own psychic landscape of dreams and fantasies as their only respite from the madness of irrational hate and violence.  Let us hope this return to surrealism’s “original usage” is of short duration, so we can continue to appreciate the art form’s altered realities for the purely imaginative artistry of its enduring aesthetic pleasures (minus the despair).











Dadaism not only wanted to present the meaninglessness of existence but also the meaninglessness of "art" as well such as with Duchamp's ‘Fountain.’













The future of surrealism in the arts is at a crossroads. Technology has increased what artists can create by a thousand-fold.





But will surrealist images, like those in sc-fi movies, point the way to a new way forward, or will surrealism be mainly utilized as a commercial distraction away from social issues?










no-1


Do you feel that surrealism should be judged only in terms of the aesthetic and without any further political or social “textual” meaning?












no-2


Do you think that a trust in science and political democracy has given us a naïve notion of steady human progress?  Should the “irrationality” of ancient beliefs and dream visions be factored into how we define ourselves and our journey forward?













no-3


Have you ever had the feeling that the boundaries between your waking life and your sleeping life were becoming porous?  Has dream logic ever served you well solving a waking problem? Has a revelation in a dream ever proven true in the light of day?









no-4


What do you beleive in today's society motivates so many artists on deviantART to adopt surrealism?







I consider dadaism as the philosophical basis for niche art movements such as net.art.  A small movement that is not only anti-art but presents a critical eye on technology.














Surrealism initially differentiated itself from dadaism with a focus on dream states and an influence from early psychology.














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Anton-Constantin's avatar
I really enjoy surrealism. 
Karumaa's avatar
How cool artworks! :D
sakpalamey's avatar
Typo in question numbered 4. "In" is not required.
Tatuas's avatar
Dadaism or "nadaísmo" ('nothingism' in English) are intellectual currents that have nothing to do with the pictorial surrealism (the Dadaism is considered as anti-art). What is the pictorial surrealism? I explain: Surrealism was not born as an artistic movement, pictorial or plastic. The first known mention of surrealism refers to a the field of literature (the concept of surrealism was born from literary authors). The concept of surrealism literary authors born during the last century (1917-today). Curiously, Surrealism (1917) emerged in response to Dadaism (1916) but as an intellectual concept (not as an artistic concept or plastic). Many artists like Dalí, adopted this intellectual and literary surreal concepts to represent or reproduce his art works (on canvases, esculptures, etc...).

Ok! I said this does not make much sense; why? Because the modern surrealist movement was born by a stupid fight between intellectuals (like almost all great inventions and achievements of humanity).
All they did was these intellectuals invented a name for an artistic movement that already existed for centuries (even millennia). Really? Yes! For example: Hieronymus Bosch "el Bosco" (1450-1516), the best known 'surreal artist' and imitated by many modern and contemporary artists (between all they, Dalí too). And traveling further back in time, still 'surreal' works they preserved the Sumerians (2600 BC. BC and 1800 BC. Although its age still is not exactly known).

Today, surrealism loses fans because the 'Surrealism' not understood; But surrealism is not dead: simply been transformed (for example: Coen brothers).

Will surrealism be mainly utilized as a commercial distraction away from social issues? Hahaha! Yes, of course: the surrealism, the violence (on tv, movies, political...), the sports, porn... All is a commercial distraction away from social issues (because the 'Surrealism' not understood); What else? XD



Ok,
the answers:

1. Really? Do you feel that 'all in this modern live' should be judged only in terms of the aesthetic and without any further political or social “textual” meaning?

Of course not. But it is in our nature to do so.
Furthermore, surrealism has nothing to do with the aesthetic.

2.
-Since when science has something to do with politics?
    - "Irrationality" of ancient? Really? Today cops kill blacks, there are wars and terrorism, the rich are exploiting the poor, we hate each other, there are still religions and sects more than ever ...
The human being is not irrational: it's stupid (Well, it's less intelligent than another human who be deceive he).
   -Since when
in DA is allowed to talk about politics? This is a website of artists not intellectuals!

3.
I have had many revelations but they have all been awake; And all these revelations are the same solution that nobody wants to assume.

4.
I'm new here in DA, but I have not seen much surrealism. What I have seen is many works of science fiction and fantastic type (which is another type of "surrealism"). People love these genres because they are attractive and distances them from their daily reality that is less attractive (people try to be happier with their fantasies; Well, is obviously, is not it?); but that is not surrealism, because beauty is valued more than the concept.

Of course, everything I say is my personal opinion (do not make me much attention;) haha!).
Salutations!
Un-Cadavre-Exquis's avatar
Interesting review. Join me for more surrealism :)
Un-Cadavre-Exquis's avatar
Very interesting stuff here. Thank you :)
Nias-LA2's avatar
thank you for this I love Surrealism
FantasyLost's avatar
You ended your article with the statement, "Let us hope this return to surrealism’s “original usage” is of short duration, so we can continue to appreciate the art form’s altered realities for the purely imaginative artistry of its enduring aesthetic pleasures (minus the despair)." And yet you chose predominantly surreal artworks for your article that displayed the dark side of life (the despair, the horror and blood, the grotesque). I wish you had included some of the surreal artworks of artists like RHADS for their "purely imaginative artistry" and "enduring aesthetic pleasures":

Lords Of The Wind by RHADS

Pierian spring by RHADS

Nature Salvation by RHADS
KimHeiseArt's avatar
I think that the imagination is immensely useful in and of itself. I was reminded of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's TED talk on "The danger of a single story". She's a lady from Nigeria and talks about how wrong and one-sided the West's stories of Africa are, and how healthy it is to tell our stories - and other's - in many different ways as a way to more deeply understand and humanize ourselves and the rest of the world. www.ted.com/talks/chimamanda_a…

I think that one of the goals of "surrealism" to do this, to expand our associations and create a bigger world. 

1- I don't think any art "should" be appreciated in any one way

2- I think that we can get pretty cozy in our own little world of politics and technology, but there is so much more to the story of us. I think that we would all do well to understand the past. There is just a wealth of ways that people through time have come to understand and feel about life and the world, even the irrational stuff has a modern application, if only to remind us of what NOT to do

3- I get a lot of interesting and new "feelings" from dreams. I sometimes wake up and the world feels new and different, and I see possibilities where I didn't before. Whenever that happens I revel in it and try to explore it as best I can before it fades away. I like to think that I end up carrying some of those strange feelings with me still, and hopefully over time I will accumulate a oeuvre of them that I might be able to tap into when I need inspiration. 

4- This is a tough question. I see a disproportionate amount of it on DA than I do in my other art arenas. I tend to think DA kind of draws that sort of thing in. I think that people also really like that sort of stuff, and that is why it is so popular here. I just think people like to see stories told in different ways, they like to have their minds blown and their imaginations set on fire. Modern technology has just given artists and audiences the tools to more readily create, share and view it. 
iap123's avatar
Surrealism emerges from our feelings and curiosity about the world around us. Science and medicine may have taken a hit post WW1 but successes such as antibiotics and the space age re-enthused most with the wonder of those technologies and resulted in plenty of inspiring new art in this genre.
artistloverwarror's avatar
1. all art should be searched for its reflection of where we are at culturally!  
2. democracy is dead and science is in the hands of the ethically dead
3. absolutely the dreams serve me well !
4.to destroy long held . and seriously backward social thinking and wake up the sleeping !
XxZnombiexX's avatar
kaffien's avatar
1. I don't believe we should remove the politics and the social textual meaning from surreal images. To me, these
    give the artwork meaning. Or at least a deeper meaning. 

2.  Trusting anything implicitly is foolhardy in my opinion.  I don't think we are moving forward at all. We are rehashing
     the same old wars since world war 2. It feels like we are wasting time.  Like we are too afraid of the horrors of the previous
     wars and paralyzed to do anything about our current world situation.

3.  Nope and nope.  Most drugs and fun hallucinogens like proper absinthe are ... illegal and or destructive so my dreams are hardly
     remembered upon waking.  

4.  It's fun to experiment with, anything crazy from a dream is totally appropriate to use.  It can give a person pause for thought. 
Mars636's avatar
1. I believe it would be an impossible task to try and stop the minds natural predisposition to associate meaning to imagery. Anyway, I think this was part of the original mandate of the Surrealist manifesto, wasn't it?
2. Yes and yes!
3. On occasion, definitely. Not that I remember. Depends on my interpretation!
4. Access to cheap drugs!!!
LOCO-TORO's avatar
There's a difference between being inspired and copying a surrealist. In a sense we do channel surrealist like excerises.. Furries drawing fantasies. Artists painting like dali: a mad paranoid man. Ect ect.
Im just glad we've sorta moved on from Sigmund Freud...

As for the quote comparing dada and surrealism: dada focused on chaos. They hated organization and hand in art. Initially they collaged works to be worthless. While surrealism prided itself on organization of their movement. An almost scientific approach to the way different artists attempted to channel the subconscious. Freudian slips and fetishes exposed. Seeing meaning in objects/nothing that doesnt have meaning exactly..

As meret oppenhiem articulated in " object (luncheon in the fur) there was a serious issue with social standings with women. It was almost like surrealist prided themselves on bizarre acts of violence against women (women with her throat cut by )
i can see advancements in the present on this issue still by new artists.
ChoirOfLeaves's avatar
Dali is definitely my favourite artist of all time.
the-midnight-fairy's avatar
This is my honest opinion about 'certain' surrealist' expressions.

I like surrealism but only when its not macabre. That dreaming atmosphere is lovely, but I saw also macabre and devilish concepts in many work... and I dont like it.
The surrealism should be divided in a positive vision and evilish vision... I can see a devilih world behind an image very macabre...
Many have using Surrealism as Evilish expression... weirdness dont need to have ugly satanic faces or blood everywhere or put a 'disgusting ' sense in a work... we have already enough horrible reality that looks even more surrealist around us... works should be always generate a wondering, dreaming and positive feelings, not rapresent the hell like in a nightmare.... its sad when I see talent expressing a evilish atmophere ...
saphireta's avatar
1. No
2. I guess this times of naivity are over, but I'm not sure.
3. Yes, my dreams are used to be quite realistic and so sometimes I'm not sure, what was a dream and what not.
4. Critics, escape, symbolical refuse of any system, searching for different meanings .....
eveningdarkness's avatar
1. No
2. Maybe
3. Yes
jedion357's avatar
Answers:
1. No.
2. No & Yes.
3. No.
4. Modern surrealism is the natural response of the destruction and abandonment of belief systems and morality that tell us who and what we are and our place in the universe. The human soul/spark desires to known and to understand meaning and in an environment of doubt and uncertainty where older more traditional belief structures are questioned and cast aside, surrealism answers a natural desire to understand and know by exploring symbols and ideas that would never have been possible when such belief structures were universally and powerfully held to be the only truth.

A consequence of surrealism is the freeing of creative thought that actually allows the artist to apprehend a fragment of the creator- that we too should be endowed with the ability to conceive and create is marvelous and wonderful and allows us to actually touch the face of the divine.

This is a great irony in that a movement that has many examples of questioning traditional belief systems can bring one closer to the object of those belief systems is in itself marvelous. I belief the Creator himself finds this amusing. I cannot help but think that the moral dilemmas facing us today can serve a divine purpose.
To suggest Surrealism as a possible way forward comes a bit late. Surrealism has already been mimicked and parodied and critiqued so many times. I enjoy Surrealist art, but the movement was much more than weird at the time, it was downright offensive. When Bunuel and Dali showed their films they caused riots. 

But I think one aspect of Surrealism needs to be acknowledged. Surrealism followed up from dada, and in a way formalized some of the gestures that made dada what it was. Also, Surrealism was never as arbitrary, or even as open-ended as you might think. Breton loved to make lists, he was forever constructing hierarchies (what was that map he made with a continent-sized Labrador?).

When Surealism first emerged it was a slap in the face of "bourgeois culture." This was roughly late nineteenth century early twentieth century middle class European culture. But a lot of gestures that people found shocking back then are simply not an issue nowadays. North American culture, with its liberal education and somewhat lax attitudes to things like social conventions and rules, is fairly distant from the first shocking effects of Surrealist art. 

In order to transgress boundaries, those boundaries have to be there. When Bunuel and Dali used Catholic imagery to blast their audiences, the audiences were shocked because sacred rules and symbols resonated with them, and they understood that the imagery was making a mockery of religious sanctity. Nowadays that kind of Catholic imagery is more suited to vampire stories (that's not to say the sacred has disappeared altogether of course).

But one thing I will say about Dali, he knew how to attract buyers for his paintings. It might come as a surprise to many people, but some art did sell well. And the Surrealists participated in the art market. The art we look at in books and museums and online is now worth millions. Does that make it "commercial"? Art has always meant value, artistic and monetary.
DianeCathey's avatar
Diane Cathey   May 17, 2014

I was once called a surrealist by my sculpture instructor and at the time did not know the meaning.  I have since had the opportunity to study Modern Art History including surrealism and dadaism as well as graphic technical software.  I won't answer each question individually on paper but as an artist and student of the arts I have searched and still search for the purposeful meaning of my own art endeavors. I consider then that surrealism is also the artist search within our individual selves and wherever we reside.

To be free to express our individual selves through our thoughts or visions (dreams) and with our whole being in any media should still be the answer to our future journey and our children's in faith to the right God.

There are several very interesting comments and I will read more at another time.
Thank you for the article, it was very well written and the art is also great....Right!
  
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