|The work of art, just like any fragment of human life considered
in its deepest meaning, seems to me devoid of value if it does not offer the hardness, the
rigidity, the regularity, the luster on every interior and exterior facet, of the crystal.
André Breton (1896-1966), French Surrealist. Mad Love, ch. 1 (1937; tr. 1987).
The simplest surrealist gesture consists in going out into the street, gun in hand, and
taking pot shots at the crowd!
Surrealist Slogan From The 1920S. Quoted by Luis Buñuel in: My Last Sigh, ch. 10 (1983).
The slogan was revived in Paris in 1968, during the May uprising.
After the Pope I think I am one of the greatest living surrealist
writer on the earth.
Carl William Brown
Surrealism is a bourgeois disaffection; that its militants thought it universal is only
one of the signs that it is typically bourgeois.
Susan Sontag (b. 1933), U.S. essayist.
Surrealism is everywhere, but not its true spirit. So I declare that after the Pope we are
the real successors of this fantastic, rebellious, anti-conventional and anti-conformist
Carl William Brown and the Daimon Club
Surrealism is not a school of
poetry but a movement of liberation. . . . A way of rediscovering the language of
innocence, a renewal of the primordial pact, poetry is the basic text, the foundation of
the human order. Surrealism is revolutionary because it is a return to the beginning of
Octavio Paz (b. 1914), Mexican poet. Alternating Current, André Breton or the Quest of
the Beginning (1967).
Surrealism is merely the reflection of the death process. It is one of the manifestations
of a life becoming extinct, a virus which quickens the inevitable end.
Henry Miller (1891-1980), U.S. author. The Cosmological Eye, An Open Letter to Surrealists
Everywhere (1939). On the subject of surrealism, Miller wrote earlier in the same essay,
"I was writing Surrealistically in America before I had ever heard the word."
Surrealism . . . is the forbidden flame of the proletariat embracing the insurrectional
dawn enabling us to rediscover at last the revolutionary moment: the radiance of the
workers councils as a life profoundly adored by those we love.
Manifesto of the Arab Surrealist Movement (1975). Quoted in: What is Surrealism?
Surrealist Glossary (ed. by Franklin Rosemont, 1971).
To be a surrealist . . . means barring from your mind all remembrance of what you have
seen, and being always on the lookout for what has never been.
René Magritte (1898-1967), Belgian surrealist painter. Time (New York, 21 April 1947).
Quoted in: Uwe M. Scheede, Sightless Vision, in Max Ernst (ed. by Werner Spies, 1991).
Like all revolutions, the surrealist revolution was a reversion, a restitution, an
expression of vital and indispensable spiritual needs.
Eugène Ionesco (b. 1912), Rumanian-born French playwright. Experience of the
Theatre, in N.R.F., no. 62 (Paris, Feb. 1958; repr. in Notes and Counter Notes, pt. 1,
Le surréalisme, cest moi.
Salvador Dali (1904-1989), Spanish painter. Quoted in: Saranne Alexandrian, Surrealist
Art, ch. 5 (1969).
Instead of stubbornly attempting to use surrealism for purposes of subversion, it is
necessary to try to make of surrealism something as solid, complete and classic as the
works of museums.
Salvador Dali (1904-89), Spanish painter. The Secret Life of Salvador Dali, ch. 14 (1948).
An aesthetic movement with a revolutionary dynamism and no popular appeal should proceed
quite otherwise than by public scandal, publicity stunt, noisy expulsion and
Cyril Connolly (1903-1974), British critic. The Unquiet Grave, pt. 3 (1944; rev. 1951).
Surrealism, n. Pure psychic automatism, by which it is intended to express, whether
verbally or in writing, or in any other way, the real process of thought. Thoughts
dictation, free from any control by the reason, independent of any aesthetic or moral
André Breton (1896-1966), French surrealist. Manifesto of Surrealism (1924; repr. in
Manifestos of Surrealism, 1969).
The vice named surrealism is the immoderate and impassioned use of the stupefacient image,
or rather of the uncontrolled provocation of the image for its own sake and for the
element of unpredictable perturbation and of metamorphosis which it introduces into the
domain of representation; for each image on each occasion forces you to revise the entire
Louis Aragon (1897-1982), French poet. Paris Peasant, The Passage de lOpéra (1926;
Breton, André (1896-1966), French poet and critic, a leader of the surrealistic movement.
He was born in Tinchebray, Orne Department, studied medicine, and worked in psychiatric
wards in World War I. Later, as a writer in Paris, he was a pioneer in the antirationalist
movements in art and literature known as Dadaism and surrealism, which developed out of
the general disillusionment with tradition that marked the post-World War I era. Breton's
study of the works of Sigmund Freud and his experiments with automatic writing influenced
his formulation of surrealist theory. He expressed his views in Litérature, the leading
surrealist periodical, which he helped found and edited for many years, and in three
surrealist manifestos (1924, 1930, 1942). His best creative work is considered the novel
Nadja (1928), based partly on his own experiences. His poetry, in Selected Poems (1948;
trans. 1969), reflects the influence of the poets Paul Valéry and Arthur Rimbaud.
Surrealism, movement in literature and the fine arts, founded by
the French poet and critic Andre Breton. Breton published his Surrealist Manifesto in
Paris in 1924 and consistently dominated the movement. Surrealism grew directly out of the
movement known as Dadaism (see DADA), an art and literary movement reflecting nihilistic
protest against all aspects of Western culture. Like Dadaism, surrealism emphasized the
role of the unconscious in creative activity, but it employed the psychic unconscious in a
more orderly and more serious manner.
The surrealists claimed as their literary forebears a long line of writers, outstanding
among whom is the Comte de Lautréamont, author of the lengthy and complicated work Les
chants de Maldoror (1868-1870). Besides Breton, many of the most distinguished French
writers of the early 20th century were at one time connected with the movement; these
include Paul Eluard, Louis Aragon, René Crevel, and Philippe Soupault. Younger writers
such as Raymond Queneau were also influenced by its points of view.
Pure surrealist writers used automatism as a literary formthat is, they wrote
whatever words came into their conscious mind and regarded these words as inviolable. They
did not alter what they wrote, as that would constitute an interference with the pure act
of creation. The authors felt that this free flow of thought would establish a rapport
with the subconscious mind of their readers. A typical short example of surrealist writing
is the proverb by Paul Éluard that states Elephants are contagious.This purely
psychic automatism was modified later by the conscious use, especially in painting, of
symbols derived from Freudian psychology.
Like their forerunners, the Dadaists, the surrealists broke accepted rules of work and
personal conduct in order to liberate their sense of inner truth. The movement spread all
over the world and flourished in America during World War II (1939-1945), when André
Breton was living in New York City.
Surrealism in Art
In painting and sculpture surrealism is one of the leading
influences of the 20th century. It claimed as its ancestors in the graphic arts such
painters as the Italian Paolo Uccello, the British poet and artist William Blake, and the
Frenchman Odilon Redon. In this century it also admired, and included in its exhibitions,
works by the Italian Giorgio de Chirico, the Russian Marc Chagall, the Swiss Paul Klee,
the French artists Marcel Duchamp and Francis Picabia, and the Spaniard Pablo Picasso,
none of whom was ever a member of the surrealist group. From 1924 the German Max Ernst,
the Frenchman Jean Arp, and the American painter and photographer Man Ray were among its
members. They were joined for a short time about 1925 by the Frenchman André Masson and
the Spaniard Joan Miro, who remained members for some time but were too individualistic as
painters to submit to the strong leadership of André Breton, who exercised final
authority over the movement. Later members of the group included the French-American Yves
Tanguy, the Belgian Rene Magritte, and the Swiss Alberto Giacometti. The Catalan painter
Salvador Dali joined the surrealist movement in 1930 but was later denounced by most
surrealists because he was held to be more interested in commercializing his art than in
surrealist ideas. Although for a time he was the most talked-about member of the group,
his work is so idiosyncratic as to be only partially typical of surrealism.
Surrealist painting exhibits great variety of content and technique. That of Dalí, for
example, consists of more or less a direct and photographic transcription of dreams,
deriving its inspiration from the earlier dreamlike paintings of de Chirico. Arp's
sculptures are large, smooth, abstract forms, and Miró, a formal member of the group for
a short time only, employed, as a rule, fantastic shapes, which included deliberate
adaptations of children's art and which also had something in common with the designs used
by the native Catalan artists to decorate pottery. The Russian-American painter Pavel
Tchelichew, while not a member of the surrealists, created surrealist images in his
paintings as well as in his numerous ballet designs. An American offshoot of the
surrealist movement is the group of artists known as the magic realists, under the
leadership of the painter Paul Cadmus. The group also includes George Tooker, Ivan Le
Lorraine Albright, Philip Evergood, Peter Blume, and Louis Guglielmi. The assemblage
sculptor Joseph Cornell began as an acknowledged surrealist, but later pursued his highly
individual art. The surrealists' attitude toward free creation was a major influence on
the beginnings of abstract expressionism in New York City. A representative collection of
the graphic works of the surrealists is in the Museum of Modern Art and of the magic
realists in the Whitney Museum of American Art, both in New York City.
Further Reading "Surrealism," Microsoft (R) Encarta. Copyright (c) 1994
Microsoft Corporation. Copyright (c) 1994 Funk & Wagnall's Corporation.
DADA, DADA, DADA !!
Dada, artistic and literary movement reflecting a widespread
nihilistic protest against all aspects of Western culture, especially against militarism
during and after World War I (1914-1918). The term dada, the French word for hobbyhorse,
is said to have been selected at random from a dictionary by the Romanian-born poet,
essayist, and editor Tristan Tzara. Dada was originated in 1916 by Tzara, the German
writer Hugo Ball, the Alsatian-born artist Jean Arp, and other intellectuals living in
Zürich, Switzerland. A similar revolt against conventional art occurred simultaneously in
New York City led by Man Ray, Marcel Duchamp, and Francis Picabia, and in Paris, where it
became the inspiration for the Surrealist movement. After World War I the movement spread
to Germany, and many of the Zürich group joined French Dadaists in Paris. The Paris group
disintegrated in 1922.
In their efforts to express the negation of all current aesthetic and social values, the
Dadaists frequently used artistic and literary methods that were deliberately
incomprehensible. Their theatrical performances and manifestos were often designed to
shock or bewilder, with the aim of startling the public into a reconsideration of accepted
aesthetic values. To this end, the Dadaists used novel materials, including discarded
objects found in the streets, and new methods, such as allowing chance to determine the
elements of their works. The German painter and writer Kurt Schwitters was noted for his
collages composed of waste paper and similar materials. French painter Marcel Duchamp
exhibited as works of art ordinary commercial products such as a store-bought bottle rack
and a urinal which he called ready-mades. Although the Dadaists employed revolutionary
techniques, their revolt against standards was based on a profound belief, stemming from
the romantic tradition, in the essential goodness of humanity when uncorrupted by society.
Dada as a movement declined in the 1920s, and some of its practitioners became prominent
in other modern-art movements, notably surrealism. During the mid-1950s an interest in
Dada was revived in New York City among composers, writers, and artists, who produced many
works with Dadaist features.
"Dada," Microsoft (R) Encarta. Copyright (c) 1994 Microsoft Corporation.
Copyright (c) 1994 Funk & Wagnall's Corporation.
Museum of Modern Art, institution founded in 1929 in New York
City to help people enjoy, understand, and use the visual arts of our time by the American
philanthropists Lillie P. Bliss, Mary Quinn Sullivan, and Abby Aldrich Rockefeller. It is
believed to be one of the finest museums of modern art in the world, with widely diverse
collections emphasizing developments in art since the postimpressionism of the late 19th
century. Over the years the museum's collection has grown to include more than 100,000
paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints, photographs, architectural models and plans, and
design objects. It also includes some 10,000 films and a library containing more than
80,000 books and periodicals.
From the opening exhibition, Cézanne, Gauguin, Seurat, Van Gogh, held in 1929 in several
rented rooms, the museum has attempted to reach a wide audience. In 1932 and 1933 it
mounted the first exhibitions of photography, architecture, and furniture and the
decorative arts. In 1935 it organized the Film Library (now the Department of Film and
Video), the first such program in any museum. It has periodically mounted retrospective
exhibitions of significant artists and art movements, incorporating objects from its own
holdings with those borrowed from other museums worldwide, and it has sponsored many
In 1939 the museum moved into permanent headquarters, designed by the American architects
Philip L. Goodwin and Edward Durell Stone, on West 53rd Street. Since 1939 much additional
property and several wings have been added, such as the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture
Garden (1953, expanded 1964), designed by the American architect Philip C. Johnson. In its
most recent expansion, designed by the Argentinian-American architect Cesar Pelli and
completed in 1984, the museum added a second theater and doubled its gallery space for the
1.5 million visitors each year.
In the museum's vast collections are paintings, sculpture, prints, and drawings that give
a complete overview of the major figures and trends in art from the 1880s to the present;
photographs from the pioneers of the mid-19th century to the recent masters; and, in the
design collection, two automobiles and a helicopter. The sculpture garden is a favorite
oasis for many visitors because of its pleasing combination of fountains, trees,
reflecting pools, and sculpture.
Reviewed by: Museum of Modern Art "Museum of Modern Art," Microsoft (R) Encarta.
Copyright (c) 1994 Microsoft Corporation. Copyright (c) 1994 Funk & Wagnall's
Whitney Museum of American Art, museum of fine art in New
York City, founded in 1914 as the Whitney Studio Club by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, an
American philanthropist and patron of the arts. The museum adopted its current name in
1930, and in 1966 it moved to its current location in a building designed by
Hungarian-American architect Marcel Breuer.
The museum's holdings represent one of the world's most comprehensive collections of
20th-century American art, including the artistic estate of the American painter Edward
Hopper, consisting of more than 2500 oil and watercolor paintings as well as drawings and
prints; more than 850 works by American painter Reginald Marsh; and American sculptor
Alexander Calder's sculpture Circus. In 1967 the Whitney Museum of American Art founded
the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program (ISP). A university-level institution, ISP
provides courses in art, art history, and artistic production.
Reviewed by: Whitney Museum of American Art"Whitney Museum of American Art,"
Microsoft (R) Encarta. Copyright (c) 1994 Microsoft Corporation. Copyright (c) 1994 Funk
& Wagnall's Corporation.