An overview of Surrealism (Wikipedia)
The elephants in the room are Freud and Jung, whom many seem to consider the discoverers of the UNconscious (which turns out to be not quite true...), and who have set a lot of the lexicographic boundaries of 20th century understanding of the concept, which is generally taken to lie within the Mind, and which seems to be where dreams and dreaming live: a magical and unseen realm, wellspring of Myth, through the liminal Doors of Perception, and the abode of the Numinous — territory not accessible to the toolkit of conventional Science. Naming the Unconscious as a thing brought it into being in discourse, and it seems to have been Friedrich Schelling (1775-1854) who first coined the term, in his System of Transcendental Idealism (1800), whence Coleridge imported the concept into English. Whatever. It was Freud and Jung who considered dreams as somehow emanating from the unconscious, and built their careers on constructing interpretations of the products of the UNconscious.Surrealism: the Art of Self Discovery Mariu Suarez (I'm dubious about some of this version, but it's not without use)
Freud and Jung began a whole new era for mankind by mapping the threefold constitution of man: the Spiritual, the psychic, and the material. They brought to the forefront the contents of the psyche as represented in ancient mythology and symbolism and taught us that the psyche can be understood through reason.
While Freud laid the scientific groundwork, Jung leaped forward in his exploration of how the unconscious reveals itself though symbols. In this respect, artists once again were needed to join the quest for knowledge. Jung himself painted and sculpted his dreams and visions so that he could better understand them.
Jung's theory of the human psyche is that it is made up of three parts: the ego (conscious mind), the personal unconscious, and the collective unconscious. As C. George Boeree, Ph.D., explains it, the collective unconscious is "the reservoir of our experiences as a species, a kind of knowledge we are all born with. And yet we can never be directly conscious of it. It influences all of our experiences and behaviors, most especially the emotional ones, but we only know about it indirectly, by looking at those influences. The contents of the collective unconscious are called archetypes.
An archetype is an unlearned tendency to experience things in a certain way. The archetype has no form of its own, but it acts as an 'organizing principle' on the things we see or do. The archetype is like a black hole in space: You only know it's there by how it draws matter and light to itself."
Will Gompertz' What Are You Looking At? has an excellent summary chapter on Surrealism, full of the antics of the Usual Suspects:...the point where dream becomes reality or vice versa. Mixed metaphors and incongruous combinations, bizarre happenings and freaky outcomes, macabre locations and mystical trips; yup, we know about Surrealism. (235)
Children can be heard to say something is "surreal" ... They know it means something a bit weird that comes into play when two seemingly incompatible elements meet... "Surreal" is a catchall word used to describe an artwork that might be uncanny or strange or kooky... (236)
Guillaume Apollonaire (who died in 1918,of Spanish Flu) invented the word in 1917... (236) in the program notes for the ballet Parade, a collaboration of Diaghilev, Cocteau, Satie, and Picasso
Andre Breton (1896-1966) ...felt that Dada had run out of steam... seeking to find a new form of artistic expression that would allow him to incorporate some of Sigmund Freud's psychoanalytic concepts into the Dada mindset. Breton was particularly interested in Freud's research into the role the unconscious mind played in human behavior, as revealed through dreams and 'automatic' (stream of consciousness) spontaneous writing... (239)
1924: Breton was writing a manifesto for his new artistic movement, found 'Surréalisme', and ...baptised the new mode of pure expression Surrealism... (240)
The left-wing Breton wanted to bring civilization to its knees by provoking a crisis in the heads of the bourgeoisie. His new idea was to tap into their unconscious mind in order to dredge up unseemly secrets that had been suppressed for the sake of decency ... subversion —it was hoped— would lead to mass disorientation caused by the Surrealists' anti-rational thought, word and deed. Which, as Breton liked to say, would be marvelous. (240)
...Breton's Surrealism aimed to confront us with shocking words and images to expose the depravity of our own minds. (241)
Breton described Surrealism as "psychic automatism in its pure state", by which he meant writing or painting spontaneously, free from any conscious association, preconception or specific intention ... a trance-like state where the conscious mind was disconnected altogether, allowing access to the deep unconscious, which would then reveal the dark and dangerous truth of a brain awash with thoughts of sexual depravity and murderous intent. (245-246)
(of Max Ernst [1891-1976]): The young Max was constantly on the lookout for ideas and situations to broaden his horizon beyond life in the provinces. Salvation came in the form of Freud's Interpretation of Dreams (1900), which the schoolboy devoured with the zeal of a starving dog in a butcher's shop... (246)
(Ernst met Arp, Tzara, Breton; in 1921 his painting "Elephant Celebes" (title refers to "a childish German rhyme" in which the elephant sports 'sticky yellow bottom grease') was instrumental in Breton's invention of the Exquisite Corpse game/method)Cadavre Exquis with Yves Tanguy, Joan Miró, Max Morise, Man Ray (Emmanuel Radnitzky) MoMAFor the Surrealists, Exquisite Corpse was a perfect parlor game, involving elements of unpredictability, chance, unseen elements, and group collaboration—all in service of disrupting the waking mind's penchant for order.
Ernst also developed the technique of Frottage for the production of 'automatic art', involving transferring the imprint of textured surfaces by making rubbings with pencil or crayon. Once transferred, Ernst looked at the result and waited for his mind to start seeing 'strange things'... (248)
Salvador Dalí's (1904-1989) ...take on Surrealism was to 'systematize confusion and thus help to discredit completely the world of reality' by way of paintng 'dreamscapes' ... by putting himself into a trance in order to reach a state of 'critical paranoia'. His aim was to make hand-painted 'dream photographs'. (248-249)
Both [Breton and] Dalí followed Freud's line about the 'superior reality of dreams', arguing that it was in the nocturnal imaginings of the sleeping that the real truth of human existence resided. (249)
René Magritte (1898-1967): ...as conventional as Dalí was wacky, but perhaps inhabited an even stranger place, a world of everyday and mundane where he ordinary is extraordinary — in a bad way... The prince of paranoia, the doyen of dread. (250)
(also provides excellent sketches of de Chirico and Edward Hopper and Man Ray as Surrealist experimenters; the example of the invention of photographic solarization when darkroom assistant Lee Miller truned on the darkroom light... and the marvelous story of the genesis of Méret Oppenheim's fur-lined teacupThe work's concept originated in a conversation among Oppenheim, Pablo Picasso, and his lover and fellow artist Dora Maar at a Parisian café where the café's social role was discussed, and at which Oppenheim was wearing a fur-covered brass tube bracelet, the pattern of which she sold to the fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli. Picasso had suggested that anything could be covered in fur, and Oppenheim remarked that this would apply to "even this cup and saucer". Oppenheim was nearly 23 years old at the time. In a slightly more explicit version of the conversation, Picasso compliments the young artist on her fur bracelet, and flirtatiously observes that there are many things he enjoys that were improved when covered in fur. Oppenheim responded, tongue in cheek, by asking, "Even this cup and saucer?"
The Failure of Surrealism
...and some less-usual Suspects:
The Dream Art of Remedios Varo
Remedios Varo — The Lost Surrealist
Remedios Varo: A Collection of 103 Paintings
Leonora Carrington: The Sorceress of Surrealism
...and what are we to make of this, in the perspective of the Surreal??
And see an addendum contrived on Tuesday...