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Surrealism Surrealism
Surrealist Movement Surrealist Movement
Surrealist Painters Surrealist Painters

Salvador Dali Salvador Dali

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  • Surrealism is a movement for the liberation of the mind that emphasizes the critical and imaginative powers of the unconscious. Often misinterpreted as an artistic movement, it has transformed visual art, writing, film, music, and political thought, not to mention everyday life. Surrealism was initially started by André Breton and gained further momentum with the inclusion of Salvador Dalí. Surrealism remains an active movement today.

    The term surrealism was coined by Guillaume Apollinaire to describe the Jean Cocteau/Erik Satie/Pablo Picasso/Léonide Massine collaboration Parade (1917) in the program notes: "From this new alliance, for until now stage sets and costumes on one side and choreography on the other had only a sham bond between them, there has come about, in Parade, a kind of super-realism (sur-réalisme), in which I see the starting point of a series of manifestations of this new spirit (esprit nouveau)."

    While related to Dada, from which many of its initial members came, surrealism is significantly broader in scope. As Dada was a negative response to the First World War, surrealism possesses a more positive view that the world can be changed and transformed into a fertile crescent of freedom, love, and poetry.

    André Breton's Surrealist Manifesto of 1924 and the publication of the magazine La Révolution Surréaliste ("The Surrealist Revolution") marked the beginning of the movement as a public agitation. In the manifesto of 1924 Breton defines surrealism as "pure psychic automatism" with automatism being spontaneous creative production without conscious moral or aesthetic self-censorship. By Breton's admission, however, as well as by the subsequent development of the movement, this was a definition capable of considerable expansion. Breton also wrote the following dictionary and encyclopedia definitions:

    "SURREALISM, n. Pure psychic automatism, by which one proposes to express, either verbally, or in writing, or by any other manner, the real functioning of thought. Dictation of thought in the absence of all control exercised by reason, outside of all aesthetic and moral preoccupation.
    ENCYCLOPEDIA. Philosophy. Surrealism is based on the belief in the superior reality of certain forms of previously neglected associations, in the omnipotence of dream, in the disinterested play of thought. It tends to ruin once and for all all other psychic mechanisms and to substitute itself for them in solving all the principal problems of life."

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