Maurits Cornelius Escher
What is Surrealism
Surrealism is an artistic movement and an aesthetic philosophy that aims for the liberation of the mind by emphasizing the critical and imaginative powers of the subconscious.
Surrealist activity extends beyond traditional artforms to include revolutionary political ideas and actions, and it has proven widely influential: many aspects of Modernist culture and intellectual life bear the stamp of Surrealist ideas. Originated in early-twentieth century European avant-garde art and literary circles, many early Surrealists were associated with the earlier Dada movement. An organized Surrealist movement began in the early 1920s; the publication of André Breton's Surrealist Manifesto in 1924 is an important early landmark in the movement's history. There is no clear consensus about the end of the Surrealist movement: some historians suggest that the movement was effectively disbanded by WWII, others treat the movement as extending through the 1950s; art historian Sarane Alexandian (1970) states that "the death of André Breton in 1966 marked the end of surrealism as an organized movement." Self-labeled surrealist groups continue to exist, however, and they allege that surrealism remains an active movement today. In addition, Surrealism, as a prominent critique of rationalism and capitalism, and a theory of integrated aesthetics and ethics had influence on later movements, including many aspects of postmodernism.
In art history the term refers to a movement in the visual arts, begun as part of Surrealist activity in Paris in the 1920's, and expanding into the rest of Europe, parts of Asia, Australia, South America and the US, with some activity as well in Africa and the Carribean. The movement in the visual arts includes such figures as Jean Arp, Giorgio Chirico, Max Ernst, Alberto Giacometti, Rene Magritte, Toyen, Paul Nash, Conroy Maddox, Man Ray, Marcel Duchamp, Joan Miro, Francis Picabia and of course Salvador Dali. It integrated a diverse range of influences from inside and outside of the visual arts, and is tied to the Surrealist movement by history and in its focus on the depicting the subconscious, and juxtaposition of disparate visual ideas. Widely considered influential in itself, and for its impact on later artistic movements, including Pop Art, Minimalism, Conceptualism as well as in cinema and commercial illustration.