Recently I have been introduced to the modern art movement, Surrealism, which to my surprise began with Surrealist writing. The first Surrealist Manifesto was written by Andre Breton & Philippe Soupault called ‘Les Champs Magnetiques’ in which they developed the notion of automatism. Surrealism is about expressing and revealing your subconscious mind. The most common way to do this is through dreaming. In the 1920’s the Surrealists came after the Dada movement and took charge with three main notions:
- 1. The Element of Chance (from dada) an adapted by surrealists
- 2. Celebration of The Irrational (also from dada) but taking on a different meaning
- 3. Irrational Being Mobilized Through The Unconscious (departs from dada)
The Element of Chance
Chance was a important attribute when dealing with Surrealism. Surrealists wanted to gain access to all abilities in which the rational would could not determine he outcome. They did this by playing games of chance often and doing exercises similar to ‘broken telephone’ and drawing and/or writing in a state where you are completely checked out from your conscious mind. This method of chance was borrowed from the Dada movement which came prior, but the Surrealists took it to the extreme.
Celebration of The Irrational
The Celebration of The Irrational dealt with the illogical and unreasonable elements of human life. Surrealists embraced the irrational (ludicrous, silly, absurd, you name it) and incorporated it into all of their pieces. This idea was also taken from the Dada artists who came before them. The Surrealist artists also used their dreams as a technique into tapping into their subconscious, which was considered an irrational/unjustifiable element of human life. This was right around the development of psychoanalysis (Freud).
Irrational Being Mobilized Through The Unconscious
The Surrealists used this idea of the unconscious within all of their art. They would go to mental health asylums and meet with the inmates and listen to their stories to become inspired and influenced. This idea of the mental health patient was important to them because they saw this as an ultimate contact within one’s subconscious.
The Surrealist movement was very influential and is an art movement that I believe will never die. The Modern Art movement in the 20th Century would not have been the same without it and I think it is important for artists to realize where their inspiration has originated and realize the importance of art history.