pure psychic automatism
intended to express
the true process of thought
free from the exercise of reason
and from any aesthetic or moral purpose
mister sands / hmw oao
art to the observer is an obsession
art to the artist is an addiction
few groups in the 20th century have been as influential as the
surrealists. surrealism came at a time of dramatic upheaval, both
historically and culturally, and grew to encompass all forms of art, wether
it be drama, literature, painting, photography or cinema. indeed, their
influence was so great that echoes of the breakthroughs made by such seers
as breton, artaud, man ray, and dali can still be heard today.
surrealism rose from the ashes of the defunct dada movement -- which
itself was an inhuman artistic reaction against the inhuman world of world
war one. as with all movements motivated by rage, dada burned out quickly,
and many of it's leaders -- notably andre breton -- went on to embrace the
new surrealist movement. disillusioned by on one hand "the cold and
insubstantial remains of art and literature, and on the other the scorching
analytical specifications of the exact sciences," surrealists were
dedicated to, in breton's words "pure psychic automatism intended to
express the true process of thought free from the exercise of reason and
from any aesthetic or moral purpose". as strongly influenced by the
psychoanalytical ideas of freud, which at that time were gaining prominence,
as it was by the deconstructionalism of dada, surrealism emerged as an
organized movement at the beginning of the 1920's, a period marked by "the
confused and inert stupefaction of a collective bourgeois existence
dedicated to nothing less than the mustiness of the balance sheet."
surrealism emerged not just as a reaction to this bourgeois complacency,
but as an attempt to create art that was closer to the reality of human
existence. in every form, surrealism succeeded admirably in obtaining this
goal, as can be plainly seen from the works of their greatest members:
antonin artaud, man ray, and salvador dali.
any study of 20th century theatre and literature would be incomplete
without mention of antonin artaud, the man who revolutionized the very
concept of theatre. in the pages of his incredibly influential 1937
treatise the theatre and it's double, artaud aimed to transform the stage
into a "sacred ground", wherein the emotions and fury of both the
performers and audience could somehow be purged. this concept of theatre
as a religious act, dubbed the "theatre of cruelty", was without doubt his
highest achievement, but he is also well known for his poetry and essays,
particularly van gogh the man suicided by society -- a stunning indictment
of a society that destroys it's most exquisite and ethereal talent.
the art of photography is a relatively new one, and given the
surrealists' hatred of the "old and outdated", it was only natural for them
to dabble in this ...
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