Top Surrealists of All-Time

Top Surrealists of All-Time

Surrealism was one of the major cultural movements of the Modernist era where artists got the opportunity to express their subconscious mind through art and literature.

Emerging in the 1920s, the movement evolved from the Dada movement and was led by André Breton, an original member of the Dada group. Breton’s “The Surrealist Manifesto” introduced the notion of intuitive art and automatism, a technique that relied on the subliminal for creativity. The movement was dedicated to expressing the imagination as revealed in dreams, free of the conscious control of reason and convention. Unlike Dada’s anti-rationalist sensibility, Surrealism was considered lighter and more positive in spirit.

It is the works from painters such as Max Ernst, René Magritte, Salvador Dalí, Joan Miró and Marc Chagall that are mostly identified as Surrealist. These artists unraveled ideas and images from their unconscious minds, painting sometimes unnerving and illogical scenes with photographic precision and creating strange creatures from everyday objects as they combined realistic style with an unrealistic subject matter.

Even though the artists had his or her own recurring themes, nature was noticeably a common element in their works. For instance, Max Ernst was obsessed with birds; Salvador Dalí’s works often depicted ants or eggs; Joan Miró used vague biomorphic imagery, and some of Magritte’s works were set in forests.

Notable female Surrealists include the British-Mexican painter Leonora Carrington, whose compositions of fantastical creatures in unearthly settings were based on intensely personal dream imagery, and the Mexican painter Frida Kahlo, whose Magical Realist paintings combined autobiographical elements with fantasy.

With the works being high in demand at auctions, this year, a Sotheby’s sale, scheduled for February 26, will feature a selection of paintings, works on paper and objects by artists including Magritte, Ernst, Miró, as well as Marcel Duchamp and Hans Arp. Christie’s sale, scheduled for February 27, includes works by Miró, Giorgio De Chirico, Yves Tanguy, Dalí, Paul Delvaux, Ernst, Picabia, André Masson, Man Ray, Duchamp, Victor Brauner, Óscar Domínguez, Arp, Hans Bellmer, Dorothea Tanning, Leonora Carrington, Kay Sage, Odilon Redon, Léon Spilliaert and others .


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