Surrealism Further research


Surrealism is a movement that began in the 1920’s of artists ans writers who experimented with ways they could unleash the subconscious imagination. The movement was launched by Andre Brenton in Paris 1924. It shortly became an international movement which then included British surrealism which began in 1936. Sigmund Freud had many theories about the unconscious and this is what these movements were influenced by. The key artists during this movement were Salvador Dali, Max Ernst, Joan Miro and Rene Magritte. There are two main types of surrealism. These are: oneiric, which is dream like imagery, and automatism which is the process of drawing without conscious thought.

Here is an example of surrealists work:

René Magritte, 'The Reckless Sleeper' 1928

René Magritte
The Reckless Sleeper 1928
Oil on canvas

I feel that this is a very difficult painting to understand. The objects featured in the lower half of the painting almost look as if they are engraved in a tombstone. The person sleeping also appears as if they are in some kind of wooden box, perhaps some kind of symbolism used by the artist. I feel that the majority of surrealism paintings have hidden and in depth-meanings to them.

To find more about this painting I researched into it further to discover its meaning. I found that the painting is of a man sleeping in a wooden alcove above a dark and cloudy sky. The space around the wooden alcove has a tablet embedded with the usual, everyday objects. They are displayed as a children’s book. The objects that are shown are displayed as they are dreamt by the person sleeping. There are many different interpretations to this painting which add to its suggestion of unease and disorientation. All the objects in this painting can be known as Freudian objects. (these are objects influenced or relating to Sigmund Freud)

About Salvador Dali


Dali was a Spanish surrealist who produced dream like scenes in a realistic style, through his paintings. He was born May 11 1904, in Figueres, Spain. He included a lot of symbolism within his work such as melting clocks, showing the passing of time, ants representing death/decay and eggs representing hope/rebirth. He was also famously known for working with sculpture, film and photography. When he was young, Felipa Domenech Ferres, Dali’s mother, indulged him in his ‘early art eccentricities’. He is thought to have been an intelligent child, but he was known to have fits of anger against both his parents and classmates. During his early life, Dali’s parents took him to the grave of his older brother and told him that he was his brothers reincarnation. Later in life Dali told people “We resembled each other like two drops of water, but we had different reflections”

Dali was sent to drawing school in 1916, after his parents began to recognize his immense talent. He was known to wear odd clothing, and had long hair, and was not the best student at his school. Later on in life during 1922 Dali enrolled in the Academia de San Fernando, which was located in Madrid. He then became even more eccentric. After misbehaving, and declaring that no member of the faculty was ‘competent enough’ to examine him, Dali was expelled.

Between 1926 to 1929, Dali met many famous painters, such as Pablo Picasso. He also met Joan Miro, Paul Eluard and Rene Magritte who started Dali’s journey by introducing him to surrealism. He then began experimentation, and in 1929, produced his first surrealistic paintings based upon his dream images. Surprisingly before this period, Dali was a reader of Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytic (psychiatric therapy) theories.

Dali and Graphic Arts

Dali worked extensively in graphic arts as he produced lots of etchings and lithographs. His early printmaking work is just as important as his paintings, as when he was older he sold the ‘rights to the images’ however he was not involved in the actual printing of them himself. Dali’s work did become very confusing at one point though, as many people produced fake copies of his work.

How this links to Graphic Design

Although this movement may appear as it has just influenced traditional arts, it also has many ways it has specifically influenced Graphic design. Many Graphic design images break free of the traditional image you would see if taken from a camera, or produced in a painting. Like surrealism, Graphic design defies the normality and pieces together things that may restrict the work of the designer. Graphic design is a pure example of how work can be dreamlike, or expressive, having a major link into surrealism, and taking influence from artists such as Salvador Dali. Images produced may be unrealistic, or feature fantasy worlds, imagined and designed by a designer, much like Sigmund Freud’s theories.


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