Surrealism is an avant-garde movement, which began around 1924, and grew
from the previous Dada Movement. The movement was thought to be most popular in
France at the time but later spread to other countries including England
(around the 1930’s and 1940’s).  It
focuses on art and literature which looked to release creative potential from
the unconscious mind. Some of the most important artists and literary creators
within this movement are Salvador Dali, Andre Breton and Sigmund Freud. The
movement was also influenced by Karl Marx, they hoped that revolution could be
caused by this unlocking of the mind and contradictions within the world could
be revealed.

Tate. (2018) Art Term: Surrealism
Online. Available at: (Accessed 16 Jan 2018)

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The definition of surreal tells us that it mainly
includes elements such as bizarre landscapes and distorted objects and is
usually more of a dreamlike idea. The term surreal came from the early 20th
century from the French word “surréalisme” which literally means “beyond


In the Surrealism art movement, rationalism was disregarded within the
movement along with literary realism and the power of the imagination was
highly regarded as the basis of the movement and what had to be channelled. Surrealist
movement contributors believed that the rational mind was able to repress the
power of the imagination and that this could be unlocked. The influence put on
the idea of the power of the personal imagination was important to the
surrealist movement and the impulse to unlock the unconscious mind, along with
an interest in myth and primitivism, made Surrealism able to shape many later
art movements. The style of surrealism still is influential today and a lot of
inspiration can be found in it.

The Art Story. (Compiled and Edited
by The Art Story Contributors, 2018) Surrealism Movement Overview and Analysis
Online. Available at:  (Accessed 16 Jan 2018).

English Oxford Dictionary (2018)
Definiton of surreal in English Online. Available at (Accessed 16 Jan 2018)



Surrealism started around the 20th century, specifically
1924, and ended around 1939. The movement became most highly associated with
the paintings created at the time. Surrealism was influenced heavily from
Dadaism. Dada was a movement which came out of World War 1 as a revolution
against the brutal effects and psychological trauma of the passing war. Dada’s
aim was to shock the world and allow a cultural reawakening to ensue, whilst
attempting to unlock their subconscious minds and benefit from the unparalleled
art process. Surrealism took this last idea of unlocking the mind to access new
found art processes and ideas and created new and unique art pieces with it.
Surrealists also began to dive into the idea of recreating dreams within their


Around the time of Surrealism’s creation there was a rapid increase in
the technology of the time, due to the war effort around the Dada movement
being over. This advancement in technology and the modernisation of society was
something that many in the early 20th century were against.
Surrealists disagreed with this evolution and were against the furthering and
mainstream element of modernisation, this only further enhanced the need for
cultural rebellion which was prevalent in the surrealist mind-set.


At the core of surrealism there was a passion for creating odd and
thought-provoking juxtaposed images meant to make the audience question the
construction and the intentions of the artist. Surrealism also allowed for the
use of recurring symbolism and the use of automatism, automatism being the act
of drawing or writing with little conscious control. The artists focused on having
a more unconventional approach.

Jessika Toothman. (23 Mar 2010.)
How Surrealism Works Online. Available at: (Accessed 16 Jan 2018)


Surrealism is more than an art
movement and a style of working to create unique art, there is strong political
influences within the movement. The movement of artists are not pressured to
create something aesthetically pleasing and work to accomplish a goal, it is
simply about rejecting the rational and natural order of the artistic process
and creating something new and showing a dream like quality within the work.
There was a strong need for these surrealist artists to reject the rational and
regular aspects of everyday life and the moral obligations of society in the
1920’s across the world. This different take on the art world and this
philosophy is said to have helped start more anarchistic art movements in
modern day and Surrealism has also fought against patriarchal institutions such
as the church.

Shannon Gadd (2015) Surrealism Philosophy Online. Available at:
(Accessed 17 Jan 2018)


The content of surrealist paintings and artwork varies from artist to
artist so it is hard to summarise the work which is within the field of
Surrealism. The work which was created by the most famous artists, which
include Andre Masson, Salvador Dali and Joan Miro, is too diverse to be
categorised effectively. Each artist, by unlocking the subconscious mind, had
different interpretations and fantasies which they wanted to portray
consciously or subconsciously. However, some of the main techniques favoured by
surrealist artists are frottage (the act of rubbing graphite over wood or other
grained surfaces) and grattage (the act of scraping the canvas)


Encyclopædia Britannica (18 Dec 2017) Surrealism Online. Avallabile at: (Accessed 17 Jan 2018)