The Reasons For Surrealism

Surrealism initially emerged during the first half of the 20th Century. Specifically, it was the aftermath of the First World War that led to its development. Artists in this period were affected by the devastating casualties caused by the conflict.

The main conclusion by surrealists was that rationalism was the reason for the deaths of millions. Therefore, the movement denied any sense of the rationale in its work. Time, space and logic were subverted.

Surrealism was also focused on the works of Freud. His theories on psychoanalysis stated that the unconscious mind lay beneath rational thought. The purpose of surreal art was to unlock this state of mind, by denying the audience any sense of logic.

Surrealism In Painting

The movement was first seen in the form of paintings. Some of the most famous surrealists began by creating pictures that had strange and subliminal imagery. The most renowned artist of this type is Salvador Dali, who was well known for including melted clocks and desert landscapes in his paintings.

Pablo Picasso also stands out as perhaps the greatest of all surrealists. His images are both recognisable, and seemingly impossible. He painted Guernica in 1937, in response to the bombing of the town of the same name. It is now recognised as an essential piece of anti-war art.

Surrealism In The Moving Image

Salvador Dali did not just restrict himself to painting. He and several other surrealists were continually experimenting with form and medium. In 1929, he collaborated with Luis Bunuel on the film, Un Chien Andalou.

This silent, and narratively disjointed, film has no conventional plot. It contains many violent and bizarre sequences. When first released it was widely panned by the public. However, in later decades it is recognised as a masterpiece.

The internet contains an abundance of great websites such as as and others. Some sites allow users to watch the films of the surrealist period. Most of them have survived the ages and are available to view.

Surrealism Into Postmodernism

Surrealism can be seen as a movement that only lasted for a short while. In recent decades, there have been artists that continue to show the same rejection of logic. However, their work also incorporates elements of other types of art.

Therefore any art that claims to be solely surreal is actually a postmodern hybrid of many other elements. Those who want to see true surrealist work will only find it in the art that was created soon after World War One. Despite this, the movement has had a significant influence on future generations. Both the works themselves, and theories behind them, continue to inspire new and emerging artists throughout the world.