Surrealism the Frottage technique and later the Grattage

Surrealism was founded by the poet Andre Breton in Paris in 1924. The word “surrealist” was coined by Guillaume Apollinaire, a French avant-garde poet in 1903, however Breton defined surrealism as a “Psychic automatism in its pure state, by which one proposes to express…the actual functioning of thought…in the absence of any control exercised by reason, exempt from any aesthetic or moral concern.”  in his 1924 Surrealist Manifesto. The aim of surrealism was to revolutionise human experience in the way of the unconscious and dreams. Breton had studied medicine and psychiatry, finding himself interested in the writings of Sigmund Freud, particularly the idea of the unconscious mind that would produce dreams being the source of artistic creativity. Breton intended the movement to be revolutionary, to be capable of unleashing the minds of the public from the rational order of society. This rationalism was a target of surrealists as it had previously guided the culture and politics of Europe which build up to the events of World War one. By implementing dream-like fantasy imagery into their work, the artists exposed their subconscious in symbolic ways. The movement grew out of the Dada movement, which rebelled against middle class self- satisfaction before the events of World War one. Dadaism art pieces were infused with hurt and anger from the war, and was intentionally unattractive. However, surrealism took itself more seriously than Dadaism, less bitter about the current affairs, and was more disciplined. At its basics, Surrealism imagery is bizarre and perplexing as its purpose is to get the view out of their comfort zones. It had strong emphasis on experimentation and using the artwork as a way to prompt self-revelation.  There were two main styles that distinguished surrealist paintings; the hyper-realistic style was used by artists such as Salvador Dali and Rene Magritte which would emphasise the dreamlike nature of surrealism. The other style was based on the heavy use of automatism to contact the unconscious mind, this was used by artists such as Joan Miro and Max Ernst. This style —– the use of techniques such as collage and decalcomania. Max Ernst invented the Frottage technique and later the Grattage technique. However, these styles were not mutually exclusive and were often used in the same piece of artwork. As well as Dadaism, Surrealism was inspired by the grotesque fantasy paintings from renaissance artists such as Hieronymus Bosch and Francisco Goya.  During the 1930/40’s many surrealist artist became popular as World war two encouraged the fear of human civilisation being on the brink of collapsing. However after the war Surrealism was challenged by Existentialism which was more rational but still held onto celebrating individualism 

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