Surrealist works feature the element of surprise, unexpected juxtapositions and non sequitur; however many Surrealist artists and writers regard their work as an expression of the philosophical movement first and foremost, with the works being an artifact. Leader André Breton was explicit in his assertion that Surrealism was above all a revolutionary movement.
Surrealism developed out of the Dada activities of World War I and the most important center of the movement was Paris. From the 1920s on, the movement spread around the globe, eventually affecting the visual arts, literature, film, and music, of many countries and languages, as well as political thought and practice, and philosophy and social theory.
During the war Surrealism's soon-to-be leader André Breton, who had trained in medicine and psychiatry, served in a neurological hospital where he used the psychoanalytic methods of Sigmund Freud with soldiers who as so were shell-shocked. He also met the young writer Jacques Vaché and felt that he was the spiritual son of writer and 'pataphysician Alfred Jarry, and he came to admire the young writer's anti-social attitude and disdain for established artistic tradition. Later Breton wrote, "In literature, I am successively taken with Rimbaud, with Jarry, with Apollinaire, with Nouveau, with Lautréamont, but it is Jacques Vaché to whom I owe the most.
Back in Paris, Breton joined in the Dada activities and also started the literary journal Littérature along with Louis Aragon and Philippe Soupault. They began experimenting with automatic writing—spontaneously writing without censoring their thoughts—and published the "automatic" writings, as well as accounts of dreams, in Littérature. Breton and Soupault delved deeper into automatism and wrote The Magnetic Fields (Les Champs Magnétiques) in 1919. They continued the automatic writing, gathering more artists and writers into the group, and coming to believe that automatism was a better tactic for societal change than the Dada attack on prevailing values. In addition to Breton, Aragon and Soupault the original Surrealists included Paul Éluard, Benjamin Péret, René Crevel, Robert Desnos, Jacques Baron, Max Morise, Marcel Noll, Pierre Naville, Roger Vitrac, Simone Breton, Gala Éluard, Max Ernst, Man Ray, Hans Arp, Georges Malkine, Michel Leiris, Georges Limbour, Antonin Artaud, Raymond Queneau, André Masson, Joan Miró, Marcel Duchamp, Jacques Prévert and Yves Tanguy.
As they developed their philosophy they felt that while Dada rejected categories and labels, Surrealism would advocate the idea that ordinary and depictive expressions are vital and important, but that the sense of their arrangement must be open to the full range of imagination according to the Hegelian Dialectic. They also looked to the Marxist dialectic and the work of such theorists as Walter Benjamin and Herbert Marcuse.
Freud's work with free association, dream analysis and the hidden unconscious was of the utmost importance to the Surrealists in developing methods to liberate imagination. However, they embraced idiosyncrasy, while rejecting the idea of an underlying madness or darkness of the mind. (Later the idiosyncratic Salvador Dalí explained it as: "There is only one difference between a madman and me. I am not mad.)
The group aimed to revolutionize human experience, including its personal, cultural, social, and political aspects, by freeing people from what they saw as false rationality, and restrictive customs and structures. Breton proclaimed, the true aim of Surrealism is "long live the social revolution, and it alone!" To this goal, at various times surrealists aligned with communism and anarchism.
In 1924 they declared their intents and philosophy with the issuance of the first Surrealist Manifesto. That same year they established the Bureau of Surrealist Research, and began publishing the journal La Révolution surréaliste.
The movement in the mid-1920s was characterized by meetings in cafes where the Surrealists played collaborative drawing games and discussed the theories of Surrealism. The Surrealists developed a variety of techniques such as automatic drawing.
Breton initially doubted that visual arts could even be useful in the Surrealist movement since they appeared to be less malleable and open to chance and automatism. This caution was overcome by the discovery of such techniques as frottage, and decalcomania.
Soon more visual artists joined Surrealism including Giorgio de Chirico, Salvador Dalí, Enrico Donati, Alberto Giacometti, Valentine Hugo, Méret Oppenheim, Toyen, Grégoire Michonze, and Luis Buñuel. Though Breton admired Pablo Picasso and Marcel Duchamp and courted them to join the movement, they remained peripheral.
In 1925 an autonomous Surrealist group formed in Brussels becoming official in 1926. The group included the musician, poet and artist E.L.T. Mesens, painter and writer René Magritte, Paul Nougé, Marcel Lecomte, Camille Goemans, and André Souris. In 1927 they were joined by the writer Louis Scutenaire. They corresponded regularly with the Paris group, and in 1927 both Goemans and Magritte moved to Paris and frequented Breton's circle.
The artists, with their roots in Dada and Cubism, the abstraction of Wassily Kandinsky and Expressionism, and Post-Impressionism, also reached to older "bloodlines" such as Hieronymus Bosch, and the so-called primitive and naive arts.
André Masson's automatic drawings of 1923, are often used as the point of the acceptance of visual arts and the break from Dada, since they reflect the influence of the idea of the unconscious mind. Another example is Alberto Giacometti's 1925 Torso, which marked his movement to simplified forms and inspiration from preclassical sculpture.
However, a striking example of the line used to divide Dada and Surrealism among art experts is the pairing of 1925's Little Machine Constructed by Minimax Dadamax in Person (Von minimax dadamax selbst konstruiertes maschinchen) with The Kiss (Le Baiser) from 1927 by Ernst. The first is generally held to have a distance, and erotic subtext, whereas the second presents an erotic act openly and directly. In the second the influence of Miró and the drawing style of Picasso is visible with the use of fluid curving and intersecting lines and colour, where as the first takes a directness that would later be influential in movements such as Pop art.
Giorgio de Chirico, and his previous development of Metaphysical art, was one of the important joining figures between the philosophical and visual aspects of Surrealism. Between 1911 and 1917, he adopted an unornamented depictional style whose surface would be adopted by others later. The Red Tower (La tour rouge) from 1913 shows the stark colour contrasts and illustrative style later adopted by Surrealist painters. His 1914 The Nostalgia of the Poet (La Nostalgie du poete) has the figure turned away from the viewer, and the juxtaposition of a bust with glasses and a fish as a relief defies conventional explanation. He was also a writer, and his novel Hebdomeros presents a series of dreamscapes with an unusual use of punctuation, syntax and grammar designed to create a particular atmosphere and frame around its images. His images, including set designs for the Ballets Russes, would create a decorative form of visual Surrealism, and he would be an influence on the two artists who would be even more closely associated with Surrealism in the public mind: Salvador Dalí and Magritte. He would, however, leave the Surrealist group in 1928.
In 1924, Miro and Masson applied Surrealism theory to painting explicitly leading to the La Peinture Surrealiste exhibition of 1925. La Peinture Surrealiste exhibition was the first ever Surrealist exhibition at Gallerie Pierre in Paris. Displayed works by Masson, Man Ray, Klee, Miró, and others. The show confirmed that Surrealism had a component in the visual arts (though it had been initially debated whether this was possible), techniques from Dada, such as photomontage were used. The following year, on on March 26, 1926 Galerie Surréaliste opened with an exhibition by Man Ray.
Breton published Surrealism and Painting in 1928 which summarized the movement to that point, though he continued to update the work until the 1960s.
The first Surrealist work, according to leader Breton, was Magnetic Fields (Les Champs Magnétiques) (May–June 1919). Littérature contained automatist works and accounts of dreams. The magazine and the portfolio both showed their disdain for literal meanings given to objects and focused rather on the undertones, the poetic undercurrents present. Not only did they give emphasis to the poetic undercurrents, but also to the connotations and the overtones which "exist in ambiguous relationships to the visual images."
Because Surrealist writers seldom, if ever, appear to organize their thoughts and the images they present, some people find much of their work difficult to parse. This notion however is a superficial comprehension, prompted no doubt by Breton's initial emphasis on automatic writing as the main route toward a higher reality. But — as in Breton's case itself — much of what is presented as purely automatic is actually edited and very "thought out". Breton himself later admitted that automatic writing's centrality had been overstated, and other elements were introduced, especially as the growing involvement of visual artists in the movement forced the issue, since automatic painting required a rather more strenuous set of approaches. Thus such elements as collage were introduced, arising partly from an ideal of startling juxtapositions as revealed in Pierre Reverdy's poetry. And — as in Magritte's case (where there is no obvious recourse to either automatic techniques or collage) the very notion of convulsive joining became a tool for revelation in and of itself. Surrealism was meant to be always in flux — to be more modern than modern — and so it was natural there should be a rapid shuffling of the philosophy as new challenges arose.
Surrealists revived interest in Isidore Ducasse, known by his pseudonym "Le Comte de Lautréamont" and for the line "beautiful as the chance meeting on a dissecting table of a sewing machine and an umbrella", and Arthur Rimbaud, two late 19th century writers believed to be the precursors of Surrealism.
Examples of Surrealist literature are Crevel's Mr. Knife Miss Fork (1931), Aragon's Irene's Cunt (1927), Breton's Sur la route de San Romano (1948), Peret's Death to the Pigs (1929), and Artaud's Le Pese-Nerfs (1926).
La Révolution surréaliste continued publication into 1929 with most pages densely packed with columns of text, but also included reproductions of art, among them works by de Chirico, Ernst, Masson and Man Ray. Other works included books, poems, pamphlets, automatic texts and theoretical tracts.
Germaine Tailleferre of the French group Les Six wrote several works which could be considered to be inspired by Surrealism, including the 1948 Ballet Paris-Magie (scenario by Lise Deharme), the Operas La Petite Sirène (book by Philippe Soupault) and Le Maître (book by Eugène Ionesco). Tailleferre also wrote popular songs to texts by Claude Marci, the wife of Henri Jeanson, whose portrait had been painted by Magritte in the 1930s. Even though Breton by 1946 responded rather negatively to the subject of music with his essay Silence is Golden, later Surrealists have been interested in—and found parallels to—Surrealism in the improvisation of jazz and the blues. Surrealists such as Paul Garon have written articles and full-length books on the subject. Jazz and blues musicians have occasionally reciprocated this interest. For example, the 1976 World Surrealist Exhibition included performances by Honeyboy Edwards.
Politically, Surrealism was ultra-leftist, communist, or anarchist. The split from Dada has been characterised as a split between anarchists and communists, with the Surrealists as communist. Breton and his comrades supported Leon Trotsky and his International Left Opposition for a while, though there was an openness to anarchism that manifested more fully after World War II. Some Surrealists, such as Benjamin Peret, Mary Low, and Juan Breá, aligned with forms of left communism. Dalí supported capitalism and the fascist dictatorship of Francisco Franco but cannot be said to represent a trend in Surrealism in this respect; in fact he was considered, by Breton and his associates, to have betrayed and left Surrealism. Péret, Low, and Breá joined the POUM during the Spanish Civil War.
Breton's followers, along with the Communist Party, were working for the "liberation of man." However, Breton's group refused to prioritize the proletarian struggle over radical creation such that their struggles with the Party made the late 1920s a turbulent time for both. Many individuals closely associated with Breton, notably Louis Aragon, left his group to work more closely with the Communists.
Surrealists have often sought to link their efforts with political ideals and activities. In the Declaration of January 27, 1925, for example, members of the Paris-based Bureau of Surrealist Research (including André Breton, Louis Aragon, and, Antonin Artaud, as well as some two dozen others) declared their affinity for revolutionary politics. While this was initially a somewhat vague formulation, by the 1930s many Surrealists had strongly identified themselves with communism. The foremost document of this tendency within Surrealism is the Manifesto for a Free Revolutionary Art, published under the names of Breton and Diego Rivera, but actually co-authored by Breton and Leon Trotsky.
However, in 1933 the Surrealists’ assertion that a 'proletarian literature' within a capitalist society was impossible led to their break with the Association des Ecrivains et Artistes Révolutionnaires, and the expulsion of Breton, Éluard and Crevel from the Communist Party.
In 1925, the Paris Surrealist group and the extreme left of the French Communist Party came together to support Abd-el-Krim, leader of the Rif uprising against French colonialism in Morocco. In an open letter to writer and French ambassador to Japan, Paul Claudel, the Paris group announced:
The anticolonial revolutionary and proletarian politics of "Murderous Humanitarianism" (1932) which was drafted mainly by Rene Crevel, signed by André Breton, Paul Éluard, Benjamin Peret, Yves Tanguy, and the Martiniquan Surrealists Pierre Yoyotte and J.M. Monnerot perhaps makes it the original document of what is later called 'black Surrealism', although it is the contact between Aimé Césaire and Breton in the 1940s in Martinique that really lead to the communication of what is known as 'black Surrealism'.
Anticolonial revolutionary writers in the Négritude movement of Martinique, a French colony at the time, took up Surrealism as a revolutionary method - a critique of European culture and a radical subjective. This linked with other Surrealists and was very important for the subsequent development of Surrealism as a revolutionary praxis. The journal Tropiques, featuring the work of Cesaire along with René Ménil, Lucie Thésée, Aristide Maugée and others, was first published in 1940.
It is interesting to note that when in 1938 André Breton traveled with his wife the painter Jacqueline Lamba to Mexico to meet Trotsky; staying as the guest of Diego Rivera's former wife Guadalupe Marin; he met Frida Kahlo and saw her paintings for the first time. Breton declared Kahlo to be an "innate" Surrealist painter.
Other members were ousted over the years for a variety of infractions, both political and personal, and others left of to pursue creativity of their own style.
Throughout the 1930s, Surrealism continued to become more visible to the public at large. A Surrealist group developed in Britain and, according to Breton, their 1936 London International Surrealist Exhibition was a high water mark of the period and became the model for international exhibitions.
Surrealism as a visual movement had found a method: to expose psychological truth by stripping ordinary objects of their normal significance, in order to create a compelling image that was beyond ordinary formal organization, in order to evoke empathy from the viewer.
1931 marked a year when several Surrealist painters produced works which marked turning points in their stylistic evolution: Magritte's Voice of Space (La Voix des airs) is an example of this process, where three large spheres representing bells hang above a landscape. Another Surrealist landscape from this same year is Yves Tanguy's Premontory Palace.jpg, with its molten forms and liquid shapes. Liquid shapes became the trademark of Dalí, particularly in his The Persistence of Memory, which features the image of watches that sag as if they are melting.
The characteristics of this style - a combination of the depictive, the abstract, and the psychological - came to stand for the alienation which many people felt in the modern period, combined with the sense of reaching more deeply into the psyche, to be "made whole with one's individuality".
Long after personal, political and professional tensions fragmented the Surrealist group, Magritte and Dalí continued to define a visual program in the arts. This program reached beyond painting, to encompass photography as well, as can be seen from a Man Ray self portrait, whose use of assemblage influenced Robert Rauschenberg's collage boxes.
Major exhibitions in the 1930s
World War II created havoc not only for the general population of Europe but especially for the European artists and writers that opposed Fascism, and Nazism. Many important artists fled to North America, and relative safety in the United States. The art community in New York City in particular was already grappling with Surrealist ideas and several artists like Arshile Gorky, Jackson Pollock, Robert Motherwell, and Roberto Matta, converged closely with the surrealist artists themselves, albeit with some suspicion and reservations. Ideas concerning the unconscious and dream imagery were quickly embraced. By the Second World War, the taste of the American avant-garde swung decisively towards Abstract Expressionism with the support of key taste makers, including Peggy Guggenheim, Leo Steinberg and Clement Greenberg. However, it should not be easily forgotten that Abstract Expressionism itself grew directly out of the meeting of American (particularly New York) artists with European Surrealists self-exiled during World War II. In particular, Arshile Gorky and Wolfgang Paalen influenced the development of this American art form, which, as Surrealism did, celebrated the instantaneous human act as the well-spring of creativity. The early work of many Abstract Expressionists reveals a tight bond between the more superficial aspects of both movements, and the emergence (at a later date) of aspects of Dadaistic humor in such artists as Rauschenberg sheds an even starker light upon the connection. Up until the emergence of Pop Art, Surrealism can be seen to have been the single most important influence on the sudden growth in American arts, and even in Pop, some of the humor manifested in Surrealism can be found, often turned to a cultural criticism.
The Second World War overshadowed, for a time, almost all intellectual and artistic production. In 1940 Yves Tanguy married American Surrealist painter Kay Sage. In 1941, Breton went to the United States, where he co-founded the short-lived magazine VVV with Max Ernst, Marcel Duchamp, and the American artist David Hare. However, it was the American poet, Charles Henri Ford, and his magazine View which offered Breton a channel for promoting Surrealism in the United States. The View special issue on Duchamp was crucial for the public understanding of Surrealism in America. It stressed his connections to Surrealist methods, offered interpretations of his work by Breton, as well as Breton's view that Duchamp represented the bridge between early modern movements, such as Futurism and Cubism, to Surrealism. Wolfgang Paalen left the group in 1942 due to political/philosophical differences with Breton, founding his journal Dyn.
Though the war proved disruptive for Surrealism, the works continued. Many Surrealist artists continued to explore their vocabularies, including Magritte. Many members of the Surrealist movement continued to correspond and meet. While Dalí may have been excommunicated by Breton, he neither abandoned his themes from the 1930s, including references to the "persistence of time" in a later painting, nor did he become a depictive pompier. His classic period did not represent so sharp a break with the past as some descriptions of his work might portray, and some, such as Thirion, argued that there were works of his after this period that continued to have some relevance for the movement.
During the 1940s Surrealism's influence was also felt in England and America. Mark Rothko took an interest in biomorphic figures, and in England Henry Moore, Lucian Freud, Francis Bacon and Paul Nash used or experimented with Surrealist techniques. However, Conroy Maddox, one of the first British Surrealists whose work in this genre dated from 1935, remained within the movement, and organized an exhibition of current Surrealist work in 1978 in response to an earlier show which infuriated him because it did not properly represent Surrealism. Maddox's exhibition, titled Surrealism Unlimited, was held in Paris and attracted international attention. He held his last one-man show in 2002, and died three years later. Magritte's work became more realistic in its depiction of actual objects, while maintaining the element of juxtaposition, such as in 1951's Personal Values (Les Valeurs Personneles) and 1954's Empire of Light (L’Empire des lumières). Magritte continued to produce works which have entered artistic vocabulary, such as Castle in the Pyrenees (La Chateau des Pyrenees), which refers back to Voix from 1931, in its suspension over a landscape.
Other figures from the Surrealist movement were expelled. Several of these artists, like Roberto Matta (by his own description) "remained close to Surrealism."
After the crushing of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, Endre Rozsda returned to Paris to continue creating his own word that had been transcended the surrealism. The preface to his first exhibition in the Furstenberg Gallery (1957) was written by Breton yet.
Many new artists explicitly took up the Surrealist banner for themselves. Dorothea Tanning and Louise Bourgeois continued to work, for example, with Tanning's Rainy Day Canape from 1970. Duchamp continued to produce sculpture in secret including an installation with the realistic depiction of a woman viewable only through a peephole.
Breton continued to write and espouse the importance of liberating of the human mind, as with the publication The Tower of Light in 1952. Breton's return to France after the War, began a new phase of Surrealist activity in Paris, and his critiques of rationalism and dualism found a new audience. Breton insisted that Surrealism was an ongoing revolt against the reduction of humanity to market relationships, religious gestures and misery and to espouse the importance of liberating of the human mind.
Major exhibitions of the 1940s, '50s and '60s
There is no clear consensus about the end, or if there was an end, to the Surrealist movement. Some art historians suggest that World War II effectively disbanded the movement. However, art historian Sarane Alexandrian (1970) states, "the death of André Breton in 1966 marked the end of Surrealism as an organized movement." There have also been attempts to tie the obituary of the movement to the 1989 death of Salvador Dalí.
In the 1960s, the artists and writers grouped around the Situationist International were closely associated with Surrealism. While Guy Debord was critical of and distanced himself from Surrealism, others, such as Asger Jorn, were explicitly using Surrealist techniques and methods. The events of May 1968 in France included a number of Surrealist ideas, and among the slogans the students spray-painted on the walls of the Sorbonne were familiar Surrealist ones. Joan Miró would commemorate this in a painting titled May 1968. There were also groups who associated with both currents and were more attached to Surrealism, such as the Revolutionary Surrealist Group.
In Europe and all over the world since the 1960s, artists have combined Surrealism with what is believed to be a classical 16th century technique called mischtechnik, a kind of mix of egg tempera and oil paint rediscovered by Ernst Fuchs, a contemporary of Dalí, and now practiced and taught by many followers, including Robert Venosa and Chris Mars. The former curator of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Michael Bell, has called this style "veristic Surrealism", which depicts with meticulous clarity and great detail a world analogous to the dream world. Other tempera artists, such as Robert Vickrey, regularly depict Surreal imagery.
During the 1980s, behind the Iron Curtain, Surrealism again entered into politics with an underground artistic opposition movement known as the Orange Alternative. The Orange Alternative was created in 1981 by Waldemar Fydrych (alias 'Major'), a graduate of history and art history at the University of Wrocław. They used Surrealist symbolism and terminology in their large scale happenings organized in the major Polish cities during the Jaruzelski regime, and painted Surrealist graffiti on spots covering up anti-regime slogans. Major himself was the author of a "Manifesto of Socialist Surrealism". In this manifesto, he stated that the socialist (communist) system had become so Surrealistic that it could be seen as an expression of art itself.
Surrealistic art also remains popular with museum patrons. The Guggenheim Museum in New York City held an exhibit, Two Private Eyes, in 1999, and in 2001 Tate Modern held an exhibition of Surrealist art that attracted over 170,000 visitors. In 2002 the Met in New York City held a show, Desire Unbound, and the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris a show called La Révolution surréaliste.
Surrealists believe that non-Western cultures also provide a continued source of inspiration for Surrealist activity because some may strike up a better balance between instrumental reason and imagination in flight than Western culture. Surrealism has had an identifiable impact on radical and revolutionary politics, both directly — as in some Surrealists joining or allying themselves with radical political groups, movements and parties — and indirectly — through the way in which Surrealists' emphasize the intimate link between freeing imagination and the mind, and liberation from repressive and archaic social structures. This was especially visible in the New Left of the 1960s and 1970s and the French revolt of May 1968, whose slogan "All power to the imagination" rose directly from French Surrealist thought and practice.
Many significant literary movements in the later half of the 20th century were directly or indirectly influenced by Surrealism. This period is known as the Postmodern era; though there's no widely agreed upon central definition of Postmodernism, many themes and techniques commonly identified as Postmodern are nearly identical to Surrealism. Perhaps the writers within the Postmodern era who have the most in common with Surrealism are the playwrights of Theatre of the Absurd. Though not an organized movement, these playwrights were grouped together based on some similarities of theme and technique; these similarities can perhaps be traced to influence from the Surrealists. Eugene Ionesco in particular was fond of Surrealism, claiming at one point that Breton was one of the most important thinkers in history. Samuel Beckett was also fond of Surrealists, even translating much of the poetry into English; he may have had closer ties had the Surrealists not been critical of Beckett's mentor and friend James Joyce. Many writers from and associated with the Beat Generation were influenced greatly by Surrealists. Philip Lamantia and Ted Joans are often categorized as both Beat and Surrealist writers. Many other Beat writers claimed Surrealism as a significant influence. A few examples include Bob Kaufman, Gregory Corso, and Allen Ginsberg. In popular culture much of the stream of consciousness song writing of the young Bob Dylan, c. 1960s and including some of Dylan's more recent writing as well, (c. mid - 1980s-2006) clearly have Surrealist connections and undertones. Magic Realism, a popular technique among novelists of the latter half of the 20th century especially among Latin American writers, has some obvious similarities to Surrealism with its juxtaposition of the normal and the dream-like. The prominence of Magic Realism in Latin American literature is often credited in some part to the direct influence of Surrealism on Latin American artists (Frida Kahlo, for example).
Antonin Artaud, one of the original Surrealists, rejected Western theatre as a perversion of the original intent of theatre, which he felt should be a religious and mystical experience. He thought that rational discourse comprised "falsehood and illusion", which embodied the worst of discourse. Endeavouring to create a new theatrical form that would be immediate and direct, linking the unconscious minds of performers and spectators, a sort of ritual event, Artaud created the Theatre of Cruelty where emotions, feelings, and the metaphysical were expressed not through text or dialogue but physically, creating a mythological, archetypal, allegorical vision, closely related to the world of dreams.
These sentiments also led to the Theatre of the Absurd whose inspiration came, in part, from silent film and comedy, as well as the tradition of verbal nonsense in early sound film (Laurel and Hardy, W. C. Fields, the Marx Brothers).
Freud initiated the psychoanalytic critique of Surrealism with his remark that what interested him most about the Surrealists was not their unconscious but their conscious. His meaning was that the manifestations of and experiments with psychic automatism highlighted by Surrealists as the liberation of the unconscious were highly structured by ego activity, similar to the activities of the dream censorship in dreams, and that therefore it was in principle a mistake to regard Surrealist poems and other art works as direct manifestations of the unconscious, when they were indeed highly shaped and processed by the ego. In this view, the Surrealists may have been producing great works, but they were products of the conscious, not the unconscious mind, and they deceived themselves with regard to what they were doing with the unconscious. In psychoanalysis proper, the unconscious does not just express itself automatically but can only be uncovered through the analysis of resistance and transference in the psychoanalytic process.
While some individuals and groups on the core and fringes of the Situationist International were Surrealists themselves, others were very critical of the movement, or indeed what remained of the movement in the late 1950s and '60s. The Situationist International could therefore be seen as a break and continuation of the Surrealist praxis.
Year Membership 1919 André Breton, Louis Aragon, and Philippe Soupault started Littérature, began an association with Dada. 1922 Breton appropriated the term "Surrealism" as a group -- which now included Paul Éluard, Benjamin Péret, Man Ray, Jacques Baron, René Crevel, Robert Desnos, Georges Limbour, Roger Vitrac, and Joseph Delteil -- organized under Breton and pulled away from the influence of Tristan Tzara and the Dadaists. Marcel Duchamp frequently associated with this group but never officially joined. 1924 The year the first Surrealist Manifesto was published, members also included Antonin Artaud, Andre Masson, Raymond Queneau, Joan Miró, Max Morise, Pierre Naville, Mathias Lübeck, Jacques-André Boiffard and Georges Malkine. Giorgio de Chirico briefly associated with the group but never joined. 1925 Jacques Prévert, Yves Tanguy, Pierre Brasseur, Marcel Duhamel, and Michel Leiris joined the group. 1926 Rene Magritte, E. L. T. Mesens, and others started a Surrealist group in Belgium. Pablo Picasso associated with the Surrealists but never officially joined. 1927 Soupault, Artaud, and Vitrac were kicked out of the group. 1929 For various reasons, including the political direction Breton was taking Surrealism, several members -- Prévert, Baron, Desnos, Leiris, Limbour, Masson, Queneau, Morise, Boiffard -- broke with the group and organized under Georges Bataille. However, several new members joined: Salvador Dalí, Luis Buñuel, Alberto Giacometti, René Char, and Lee Miller. Breton also reconciled with Tzara. When the second Surrealist Manifesto was published, it was signed by Aragon, Ernst, Buñuel, Char, Crevel, Dali, Eluard, Ernst, Péret, Tanguy, Tzara, Maxime Alexandre, Joe Bousquet, Camille Goemans, Paul Nougé, Francis Ponge, Marco Ristitch, Georges Sadoul, André Thirion, and Albert Valentin. Federico García Lorca was friends with Dalí and Buñuel and is often called a Surrealist though he never officially joined the group; he broke contact with Dalí and Buñuel in 1929 when he interpreted their film, Un chien andalou (An Andalusian Dog), as an attack on him. 1932 Aragon and Sadoul left the Surrealists because of the conflict between Communism and Surrealism and their dedication to the Communist party. Meret Oppenheim, Victor Brauner, Roger Caillois, Georges Hugnet, Jehan Mayoux, Henri Pastoureau, Guy Rosey, Claude Cahun and J. M. Monnerot joined the group. 1934 Óscar Domínguez, Dora Maar, Richard Oelze, Gisèle Prassinos, Kurt Seligmann, and Brion Gysin joined the group. 1935 Wolfgang Paalen, Pierre Mabille, and Jacques-B. Brunius joined the group. Hans Bellmer's work was published in Minotaure. Brion Gysin was expelled. 1936 Joseph Cornell debuted Rose Hobart. Though Cornell was influenced by the Surrealists and friendly with many of them, he never officially joined the group. Dalí's negative criticism of Rose Hobart further inspired Cornell to distance himself. Dalí stated "That was exactly my idea for a film. I'm not suggesting he stole the idea from me, but it's as if he did." 1937 Kay Sage met Tanguy, and Leonora Carrington met Ernst. Also, Remedios Varo settled in Paris with Peret. 1938 Breton had a falling out with Eluard but reconciled with Masson. Also, Breton met Frida Kahlo in Mexico; she is often called a Surrealist though she never officially joined. Roberto Matta, Gordon Onslow Ford and Bellmer joined the group. 1939 Dali was kicked out of the group for multiple reasons including his apparent support of Francisco Franco, his commercialism, and his abrasive personality. Breton referred to him from that point on as "Avida Dollars", and the group essentially referred to him as if he were dead. Caillois and Hugnet also left the group. 1940 Wifredo Lam joined the group. 1941 Breton met Aimé Césaire in Martinique. 1942 Breton, Duchamp, Ernst, Calas, and Carrington gained a following in New York with the publication of VVV. Newer members included Dorothea Tanning, Enrico Donati, Charles Duits, David Hare, Robert Lebel, Isabelle and Patrick Waldberg. Other artists directly influenced by the Surrealists in New York include Robert Motherwell, William Baziotes, Alexander Calder, and Frederick Kiesler. 1943 The View published the poetry of 15-year-old Philip Lamantia who later became acquainted with Breton and others in New York. 1944 Breton and Matta met with Arshile Gorky. Seligman left the group. 1948 Matta, blamed for Gorky's suicide, was kicked out of the group. 1951 In what was called "The Carrouges affair", Michel Carrouges, a writer associated with the Surrealists, was found to be a practicing Catholic and was expelled. Maurice Henry, Jacques Hérold, Marcel Jean, Robert Lebel, Patrick Waldberg, and Henri Pastoureau were also expelled. 1954 Ernst received the Grand Prix of the Venice Biennale and was subsequently expelled from the group. 1959 Jean Benoît and Mimi Parent joined the group. 1960 Ted Joans met Breton in Paris.
Techniques and humor
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