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The Surrealist Movement

Founded in 1919 by a small group of writers such as Andre Breton, Louis Aragon and Paul Eluard, the surrealist movement sprang from its protest against the 19th century values of bourgeois society and the establishment. Although the surrealist movement began with the writers, it extended its influence primarily through the surrealist artists and their visual arts (Carr & Zanetti, 2000). As an art form, surrealism repudiated the conventional artists' representation of external reality by striving to capture the purity of existence, or the essence of life. Based on this philosophy, some surrealist artists turned inwards and tapped into the realm of their unconscious by creating elaborate dreamscapes. Others questioned the relationship between objects and their representation through the juxtaposition of objects with unfamiliar associations or their placement them in incongruous settings, thus generating unexpected relationships between them. Many surrealist painters sought to obliterate the existence of the role of the deliberate and controlled artist by utilizing improvisational techniques such as automatic painting or experimenting with new and unusual media (Passeron, 1975). In spite of these eclectic representations, what unified them was the artists' fundamental quest to assert the mind and the imagination without the self-conscious control of rational thought and without concern for aesthetics or ethics (Breton, 1924, cited in Rubin, 1968, p. 64).

A product of the unique endeavors of many creative artists who strove in their individual ways to transcend the conventions of artistic representation to express their vision of the imagination, surrealist art warrants further examination for several reasons. By striving to manifest the realm of human unconsciousness and the imagination, the surrealist painters challenged people to look beyond the materialism and superficiality of day-to-day human existence. While conventiona...

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The Surrealist Movement. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 15:09, April 21, 2019, from