Original Surrealism Paintings

In his 1924 Surrealist Manifesto, André Breton identifies Sigmund Freud's work in psychology as contributing to the founding of Surrealism. Most important was Freud's distinction between the unconscious and conscious realms of the mind. Breton advocated a joining of the unconscious dreams and fantasies with conscious reality to achieve "an absolute reality, a surreality." Incorporating images from dreams, imagination, and free-association, surrealist paintings often appear nonsensical. Animals are perfect stand-ins for people in surrealist art because like the unconscious mind, they operate instinctually. Steep perspective; geometric, checkerboard patterns; heavy, out-of-place shadows; and large tracts of empty space often appear in surrealist art. Such compositional devices disorient the viewer to some degree, but only in order to stimulate the imagination. Common to the work of famed Surrealists Giorgio de Chirico, Salvador Dalí, and René Magritte, the color blue helps create the kind of cool, mysterious atmosphere found in many contemporary surrealism paintings. Surrealist painters tend to use "tight" brushstrokes. Their aim is to meld fantasy with reality, which they accomplish by rendering individual forms realistically, but placing them out of context.

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The Surrealist movement was based on the idea of blending dreams and reality in an attempt to unlock the ultimate power of the imagination and allow the unconscious mind to fully express itself. The Surrealists were powerfully influenced by psychoanalysis and the teachings of Karl Marx, and the goal of Surrealism was to, as Andre Breton put it, “express the actual functioning of thought”. That is, to bypass reason and rationality by accessing the unconscious mind and create art from deep within their psyche. It was meant to be a revolutionary movement, and the artwork created from the Surrealist movement was intended to be viewed as an artifact of the Surrealist philosophy.

Surrealist paintings are often created with pinpoint precision and photographic accuracy. The angles and lines may be perfect, but the subjects they depict are often strange, illogical, and entirely fictional. Fantastic creatures made from unusual arrangements of everyday objects are not uncommon in Surrealist paintings, as they are known to heavily feature the element of surprise.