Art History Lab

Exploring Surrealism Art: Characteristics, Styles, and Evolution

Surrealism Art: A Journey through Definition, Characteristics, and History

Have you ever gazed at a painting, photograph, or sculpture and wondered, “What is this?” It may be an artwork that belongs to the Surrealism movement. Surrealism art is a visual representation that portrays an irrational and illogical world, presenting imagery that evokes the imagination of the viewers.

In this article, we will explore the different facets that define the Surrealism art movement. It encompasses its definition, characteristics, and its historical background.

Definition of Surrealism Art

Surrealism art emerged as a movement in the early 1920s, led by Andre Breton, a French poet, and writer. It is an art form that expresses the mind’s unconscious thoughts and dreams beyond reality.

It was an extension of the Dada art movement, which aimed to expose the absurdity of societal values and create a new form of art that challenged traditional artistic norms. In surrealism art, the artists explore their subconsciousness, revealing their deepest fears, desires, and fantasies in an allegorical form.

The artworks are characterized by their dream-like quality, which renders them irrational and illogical. The use of symbolism, metaphors, and juxtaposition of unlikely objects often features in the artworks, making the art form highly symbolic.

Characteristics of Surrealism Art

The following are some of the defining characteristics of Surrealism Art:

1. Automatism

Surrealist artists utilize automatism a technique that involves creating art without conscious planning or censorship.

It is a process that enables the artists to tap into their unconsciousness, allowing the imagery to emerge spontaneously. This process is important, as it helps to reveal the artists’ thoughts, feelings, and desires in a free and non-restrictive manner.

2. Juxtaposition

Surrealism art often involves the juxtaposition of disparate and unusual objects, which creates surprising or paradoxical images.

It is a technique that aims to create a new meaning by bringing together unrelated objects. The juxtaposition of these objects often results in representing ideas, conflicting emotions, and absurdity, which are revealed in a thought-provoking manner.

History of the Surrealism Art Movement

Surrealism art has its origins in the early 20th century. After World War I, artists from all over Europe sought to explore the mind’s unknown regions, resulting in a pursuit for new forms and ways of expression.

The following are some of the key periods of the Surrealism art movement:

1. Origins and Influences

Surrealism art was influenced by the Dada art movement, which emerged in response to the First World War.

Dada artists aimed at creating something outside conventional aesthetics, seeking to destroy the aesthetics of reason. They were critical of the notions of the bourgeoisie and sought to challenge the traditional ways of art.

Giorgio de Chirico, an Italian painter, played a vital role in the development of Surrealism art. He created artworks with mysterious and often-surreal elements, which influenced the Surrealist artists.

Other influences of the art movement include Primitivism, Renaissance masters, and dreams. 2.

Establishment and Manifesto

In 1924, Andre Breton, a French writer, and poet, published a manifesto announcing the establishment of Surrealism as an art movement. The manifesto defined Surrealism as the “pure psychic automatism,” a process that allowed the expression of thoughts beyond the control of reason and free from any aesthetic considerations.

The manifesto further stated that Surrealism aimed at creating art that conveyed the authentic expressions of the subconscious mind. Andre Breton founded the Surrealist Research Bureau, which served as a platform for numerous artists coming together to create new art forms.


In conclusion, the Surrealism art movement is a unique form of art characterized by its dream-like qualities, symbolism, and irrationality. Surrealism art is sought to explore and reveal the unconscious of the artist’s mind by challenging the conventional norms of art.

This article gives an overview of Surrealism art, its definition, characteristics, and its historical background. As such, it provides an important foundation to further appreciate and understand surrealism art.

Surrealism Art Styles and Concepts: A Journey into Painting, Sculptures, Objects, and Photography

Surrealism art is known for its dream-like qualities, unique symbols, and unforeseeable juxtapositions. Since its inception in the early 1920s, Surrealism has evolved, encompassing different artistic styles and concepts.

This article will explore the different styles and concepts of Surrealism art, including Surreal paintings, Sculptures and Objects, and Surrealism Photography.

Surreal Paintings

Surrealist paintings are often of hyper-realistic style, incorporating techniques such as automatism, collage, and photomontage. Automatism is an art method used by Surrealist artists to create automatic drawings or paintings.

By using this spontaneity, they were able to liberate their creativity, allowing their inner mind to express itself.

Max Ernst, a German artist, was well-known for his surreal paintings.

He created his artworks by scraping, glazing, and sanding the surface to reveal hidden images. Another renowned Surrealist painter was Joan Mir, a Spaniard who used abstract symbolic language to create imagery that tried to represent the artist’s imaginative world.

Surrealism Sculptures and Objects

Surrealist sculptures and objects are often created from everyday objects. They play with our ideas about the purpose of an object and create a sense of ambiguity.

Alberto Giacometti and Meret Oppenheim were two artists prominent in this field. Oppenheim’s famous surrealist art piece, “Object,” involved covering a teacup, saucer, and spoon in fur.

Giacometti’s sculptures, such as “The Human Condition,” use a thin, elongated figure, often with a distorted, melting-quality, creating a sense of uncertainty and confusion. This explains why his art has been acknowledged both as the epitome of the Surrealist sculpture and a pioneering demonstration of Existentialist thought.

Surreal Photography

Surrealist photography often involves the distortion of images, combining two different pictures, or linking ideas through a collage. The French photographer, Eugne Atget, captured Paris in everyday situations through his lens.

His photography is an example of how Surrealism came to represent a way of seeing the world. He often photographed whimsical objects and bizarre shapes, highlighting the surreal aspect of everyday life.

Techniques and Approaches of

Surreal Photography

Combination Printing: This technique involves taking two or more separate pictures and overlaying them to create a new image with a different meaning. Double Exposure: A technique involving two pictures overlaid to create a surreal image.

Montage: This approach involves combining photographs to create something new entirely. Surrealist Journals: Surrealist publications also played a significant role in propaganda, sharing the art movement’s ideologies.

These publications visualized Surrealist art, literature, and other artworks as a way to demonstrate its content.

Surrealism in Everyday Life

Surrealism does not solely belong in the art world, but in everyday life as well. Any photograph that captures an odd moment or a strange combination of objects often makes for a Surrealist photograph.

The purpose of capturing such photos is to showcase the surreal aspects of everyday life. In conclusion, Surrealism art encompasses various artistic styles and concepts.

From Surrealist paintings, sculptures and objects, to Surrealist photography, the art form holds a vast range of techniques and approaches. Through its myriad of techniques, Surrealism has become an essential and unique piece of art that values creativity, rebellion against established norms, and freedom of expression.

The Emergence and Fall of Surrealism Art Movement: An In-depth Exploration into Influence, Dissemination, Evolution, and Fragmentation

Surrealism art emerged in the early 1920s and peaked in the 1930s and 1940s. The art movement was known for its supernatural imagery and its interpretation of the subconscious psyche.

As time passed, Surrealism evolved, disseminated across the globe, and evolved into new forms. In this article, we will delve into the emergence and fall of the Surrealism art movement, including its influence, dissemination, evolution, and fragmentation.

Influence and Dissemination

At the time of the birth of Surrealism art, Europe was undergoing a radical shift, with World War I having ended only a few years prior. Surrealism art influenced the political and artistic spheres and created paths for many more artists to undertake artistic freedom.

In the 1940s, the Surrealism art movement began to decline, and artists started to move on to other movements in response to the changing times and political shifts. Existentialism was one such school of thought that inspired the artists who were departing the Surrealist movement and moved on to create novel contemporary works.

Abstract Expressionism was the other 20th-century style of painting that had significant influence on artists post-Surrealism.

Evolution and Fragmentation

The Surrealism art movement has evolved over the years, from its inception in the early 20th century to this day. Over time, the art form has manifested several branches, including British Surrealism, which focused largely on politics.

Women have also played a vital role in the fragmentation of the Surrealism art movement. Female Surrealists were significant, influencing and expanding upon the already-established techniques of Surrealist art.

They sought to turn Surrealism from its male-centric focus and establish a space for female artists, leading to the birth of a new era of Surrealist art.

Important Examples of Surrealism Art

Surrealism art exists in different forms such as sculpting, painting, literature, films, and photography. This section will briefly explore some of the prominent examples that have played a significant role in shaping the Surrealist movement:


Carnival of Harlequin by Joan Mir

The painting is an embodiment of the Commedia dell’arte, which comprises European improvised comedies. It is composed of dreamlike figures and objects in a surreal, colorful, and unconventional palette, demonstrating the hallmarks of Mir’s style.

2. Battle of Fishes by Andr Masson

The painting represents an underwater conflict of fish and features Surrealist iconography, including automatism-translated forms amid freely flowing lines.

3. Mama, Papa is Wounded! by Yves Tanguy

The artwork depicts a post-apocalyptic landscape, creating an atmosphere of anxiety and surrealism within the representation.

It symbolizes the Surrealist’s interest in the existential limits of human perception and the limits of our current framework. 4.

The Accommodations of Desire by Salvador Dal

The work is an assemblage of hand-painted photographs that explore the effects of love and fear on the mind. It demonstrates the demonstration of Dali’s infamous paranoid-critical approach to surrealism.

5. The Human Condition by Ren Magritte

The painting plays with the concept of perception versus projection, utilizing trompe-l’oeil techniques.

This work features a painted image simply titled “The Human Condition” affixed before a naturalistic landscape, confronting the viewer with the choice of whether to look past or recognize the painting’s frame. 6.

Object by Meret Oppenheim

It is, perhaps, the most notorious Surrealist object ever made. The “Object” is an assemblage constructed of fur from a Chinese gazelle teacup, saucer, and spoon, and use of earthy hues reminiscent of human nature.

The resulting object becomes removed from its everyday use and gains a peculiar, almost alarming acknowledgment. In conclusion, Surrealism art had a significant impact on the world of art by being a bold rebellion against established artistic norms.

Despite its many evolutions, it remains an art form that continues to inspire and influence contemporary artists worldwide. The examples of Surrealism art described above are unique in themselves, offering a glimpse into the world of Surrealism that holds an importance in the art world and society culture.

In conclusion, Surrealism art is a significant and influential movement that emerged in the early 20th century. This article has taken us on a journey through the definition, characteristics, history, styles, and examples of Surrealism art.

From its dream-like paintings to its unconventional sculptures and objects, Surrealism art continues to captivate audiences with its unique symbolism and exploration of the subconscious mind. The movement’s influence and dissemination, as well as its evolution and fragmentation, have shaped the world of art.

As we explore the important examples of Surrealism art, we are reminded of the power of imagination, the importance of challenging norms, and the limitless possibilities of artistic expression. Surrealism art invites us to embrace the unconventional, delve into the depths of our subconscious, and view the world through a different lens.

It continues to inspire and leave an indelible mark on the art world and our imagination.

Popular Posts