Surreal Art & The Artists – Part 2

Picking up the baton one again to conduct our orchestrations of Surrealist art, in this blog we take a closer look at the artists and their work. It was not particularly easy to join Breton’s tight group, it was an elite club, which sort of made a joke of their Communist beliefs. Breton was very fickle who he accepted into this closed society and he was famous for kicking out anybody who did not agree with his own particular views about Surrealism.

America and Surrealism

The Surrealist movement was started in Europe in the early 1920’s as fascism grew across Europe. But a decade later most of the famous members of the movement had to flee Europe under Nazi persecution. This was portrayed by Max Ernst in his work Europe After the Rain II, it was meant to represent a post-apocalyptic vision during WWII. This migration of Surrealist painters started to spread their wings far and in particularly to the Americas. Surrealism bought influences into a wide range of disciplines including mythology and psychology. South America was particularly dominant in giving refuge to Surrealism. Frida Kahlo’s works in particular were indicative of all Surrealists ideals, although she never really bought into the intellectual side of things. Her painting Arbol de la Esperanza, could have been right out of a Surrealism textbook. The tree of hope, was actually not a tree at all but almost a self-portrait.

Does Surrealism Matter?

To answer this question, we are really answering the question, does all art matter? If we look at the legacy that the Surreal movement left behind, then the answer must be in the affirmative. The avant-garde ideas and techniques that artists are using today all came from Surrealism. Surrealism gave a pass to future artists to use fantastic imagery and impulsiveness. One of Surrealism’s biggest premises was that art was the product of a creative imagination and today’s artists were given a free hand to produce art that deliberately challenges the viewer. Without doubt Surrealism gave artists license to push the boundaries of their work. In essence Surrealism was the opposite of classical art, and therefore put a nadir to the classical zenith. This gave all the artists that followed a sort of parameter to judge their work, but more importantly it gave art reviewers a scale to judge an individual work to, a barometer of excess.


Automatism was a keystone of all Surrealist art, it was the process of making art with little or no control whatsoever, to reveal the unconscious mind in the work. This is based on Sigmund Freud’s free association methodology, where the patient would reveal all their thoughts completely unlimited. Surrealism and Automatism are inherent, they belong together and to some extents explain each other.

Whether you like Surrealist work does not really seem to matter, you just have to believe that the manner that the art was conceived is the most important thing. One thing that Surrealism definitely did was to give freedom to all the other artists that came after, freedom in how they made their work and freedom to really express themselves.