Surrealism- the creative potential of the unconscious mind.

Another ART-icle :)


African Sonata by Vladimir Kush

Surrealism: (n) a 20th-century avant-garde movement in art and literature which sought to release the creative potential of the unconscious mind, for example by the irrational juxtaposition of images.

If you’ve heard of Surrealism, what probably comes to mind is Salvador Dalí’s painting, The Persistence of Memory. You, know, the one with the melting clocks? and the strange nose and eye?

The Persistence of Memory

Have you ever tried to remember your dream, but your brain blocks you because what you remember doesn’t make sense? This is what Surrealist artists try to recreate. The images don’t make any sense to our brain, which is what draws me to this art movement. It allows for the viewer to stare at the piece, to try to figure out what is actually senseless. Although Surrealism is also present in literature, i’ll be focusing on visual arts for the purposes of this article.

First, let’s talk about Salvador Dalí… he has an enormous mustache. Born in Spain, in 1904, he painted, sculpted, created films, and fashion, a novel, and did even more. Dalí was influenced by Cubism and Impressionism, and was one of the leaders of the Surrealist movement.

L’Elephante Giraffe
The Elephants
The Temptation of St Anthony





swans reflecting elephants

What is the deal with Dalí and Elephants? Many of his works show the great animals with long, spindly legs, carrying great loads on their backs. He used them to contrast the difference between weight and structure, in order to distort reality. The weights on their backs seem to be inspired by Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s sculpture base in Rome of an elephant carrying an ancient obelisk. In Swans Reflecting Elephants, they are not spindly, but the swans reflect elephants underwater, and if you look at the swans upside-down, you can see elephant heads.

Here are some more paintings by Dalí

Spider of the Evening
The Anthropomorphic Cabinet


The Ghost of Vermeer of Delft which can be Used as a Table

















Another famous Surrealist painter is German-born Max Ernst. Unlike Dalí, he had no formal art training, but he did pioneer techniques such as frottage, rubbing pencil on objects to create a source of images. Another of his techniques was grattage, scraping oil paint across a canvas to reveal the shapes of objects underneath.

Ernst was fascinated with birds in his work, and even created an alter-ego named Loplop who was a bird.

Here are a few works by him:

Ubu Imperator
The Fireside Angel


Two Children are Threatened by a Nightingale

Surrealism is an art form that I appreciate because of the imagination that is involved. It requires great skill to create the forms and images and also skill to imagine the scenes. Although I only discussed Dalí and Ernst in the article, there are so many more artists from this movement.