Archive for the ‘Surrealism’ Category

Frida Kahlo – A Woman’s Icon

Monday, February 23rd, 2009

Frida Kahlo - Self Portrait

Frida Kahlo is one of the most recognized painters of the modern world. She is an icon to the feminist movement and to women, even today because of the strength, love, and compassion she showed throughout her life.

She was born in Coyoacan in 1907, in Mexico City. At the age of 6 she was hit with the terribly debilitating disease of polio, and this disease severely affected  one of her legs, but she did not allow this to stop her.  She wanted to study medicine but in 1925 she was in a terrible accident.  While recovering, she began to paint the reflections of her physical and mental pain.  She is considered one of the best surrealist painters of her time and she expresses both depression and happiness.  Her themes reflect her pain, her happiness, her obsession for children, and the native folklore of her country. She once wrote “Whether my paintings are an honest expression of my being. My themes reflect my feelings, my mood swings, the profound actions that life has produced in me.”

She was married to Diego Rivera the famous Mexican muralist in 1929 and the relationship, although non conventional, was extremely passionate. Diego was everything to Frida, her lover, her universe and her man.  She became internationally known while travelling to New York with Diego and a modern day icon to the modern day woman. A woman who was strong and yet sensitive, she expressed who she was and what she felt through her paintings.

Surrealist Fantasy Artist – Tomasz Setowski

Thursday, June 12th, 2008

Have you ever seen the work of Tomasz Setowski? This artist specializes in fantasy art, but fantasy art as no other. Kasia Turajczyk suggests that his work is influenced by the polish illustrator Jan Marcin Szancer who died in 1973 and was a world renown childrens book illustrator, but I believe that the ethereal quality of the paintings by Tomasz Setowski are so much more. I believe Setowski must be influenced by many other artists as well to be able to attain the creativity and the imagery he is able to project in his paintings. These may come from his own inner being with little or no influence from any other painter, illustrator, or artist. Of course, I am sure much of his creativity stems from images, or stories he remembers from childhood, because all of his imagery is so childlike.

What I do know is that to fully appreciate the work of Tomasz Setowski , you need to stand  a few minutes and really observe all that goes on in his paintings, and once you do that you will believe in fairies, kings and queens, and enchanted forests. These paintings are full of optimism and happiness, this is the type of work we need more of in our lives.

Photo Via : Surrealist Fantasy Art

Surrealists Inspired in Dreams – Rene Magritte

Friday, June 6th, 2008

Rene Magritte - Les AmantsAnother famous artist who was inspired by his own imagination and inner thoughts was Rene Magritte. He was born into a middle class family, his father, a tailor, and his mother a milliner.

Rene Magritte was a Belgian artist, born at the end of the 19th century. He began to draw in 1910 when he began to take private art classes. When he was 12 his mother committed suicide, and many of his first paintings, a series of paintings of people with cloths obscuring their faces, may have been influenced from his witnessing the retrieval of his dead mothers body from the river.

In 1927 he had his first surreal exhibit and was criticized terribly for it. His failure caused him to move to Paris where he continued to show his paintings.

As it occurs in many other cases, most of the interest in his work did not occur until some time after his death. His work is mostly fantasy based, but has a somber mood and style to it. It is said that his work may have influenced the Pop, conceptual, and minimalist art movements. His work showed with younger contemporaries who later took on the fauvist and pop style.

Surrealism Art

Friday, April 25th, 2008

Max Ernst - L’Ange du foyer ou Le Triomphe du surréalismeSurrealism is a cultural movement in the early 1920s that brought together artists, thinkers and researchers in hunt of sense of expression of the unconscious. Surrealism was a thrilling revolutionary movement. The artists in the surrealistic movement were greatly influenced by Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung who taught us that the psyche can be understood through reason. Surrealism was born after the publication of the “Le Manifeste du Surrealisme” by the French poet Andre Breton (1924). Breton suggested that rational thought oppressed creativity and thus was contrary to artistic expression.

Surrealist artists wanted their work to be a link between their minds and thoughts and the real forms of the material world. To them, object stood as a symbol for their inner reality and they used symbols and objects to represent their mind. Through their artworks and paintings, artists displayed their subconscious mind to the conscious mind. This way, these paintings and what they meant could be understood through analysis. Just as painters during the Renaissance took great care to show how people and bodies were like and they portrayed very well human proportions, surrealist artists tried to show what the mind and thoughts looked like.

There were two different ways how artists chose to show the mind. Some artists expressed them with abstract paintings (automatism) while others expressed them in symbolic tradition (realistic expression).

Automatism – Abstract Surrealism

Monday, April 21st, 2008

Surrealism Automatism Joan Miro - The Swallow of LoveAutomatism is an abstract artistic form greatly influenced by Carl Jung & Sigmund Freud. Carl Jung did not judge the images of the sub-conscious. He simply accepted them into the consciousness so that they could be analyzed. This he termed as automatism.

Artists interpreted this as referring to a suppression of the consciousness in favor of the subconscious. The automatists, who are more focused on feelings and less analytical, understood automatism to be the automatic way in which the images of the subconscious reach the conscience. They thought these images should not be burdened with meaning, so they represented them in an abstract form.

This interpretation had made the automatist see the academic discipline of art as intolerant of the free expression of feeling. They thought that abstractionism is the only way to bring the images of the subconscious to life. Automatism could be best defined as “abstract”.

Artists in this movement believed that automatism was a better way to tackle societal change than the Dada movements attack on prevailing values. The most important painters of abstract Surrealism were Joan Miro and Andre Masson.

Veristic Surrealism – Dali, Magritte and Max Ernst

Friday, April 18th, 2008

Rene Magritte -The Man in the Bowler HatThe other approach to Surrealism was taken by the Veristic surrealists. Veristic Surrealists allowed the images of the subconscious to be undisturbed so that meaning could be understood through analysis. They linked images between the abstract spiritual realities and the real forms of the world. For them, their paintings were a metaphor to inner reality. Veristic surrealists hoped to follow images of the subconscious until consciousness could understand the meaning. The expression of the subconscious is the image and the consciousness had to decode the image and translate it into the language of its own. Thus paintings of the Veristic Surrealists portrayed people and objects which looked close to reality, although were represented in quite strange ways. Veristic Surrealism could be best defined as “representational” Surrealism.

The most representative painters of Veristic Surrealism were Salvador Dali; Rene Magritte and Max Ernst. The Belgian Rene Magritte had a good ability to paint ordinary objects in unusual contexts giving new meanings to familiar things. Max Ernst started as a Dadaist but turned to Surrealism when the Dada movement ended. With his paintings he tried to provoke the viewer to awaken moral.

Freud’s work with dream analysis became of utmost importance to the surrealists to develop methods to liberate imagination. Surrealist works of art were revolutionary and often not understood. Salvador Dali, the best representative of Surrealism, once said, ‘There is only one difference between a madman and me. I am not mad.’

Eugenio Salvador Dali

Tuesday, April 15th, 2008

Christ of St. John of the Cross - Salvador DaliSalvador Dali (Figueras, Spain) was one of the most significant painters of the twentieth century. He was also extremely controversial. He was expelled from the Artistic Academy in 1926 right before his final exams. He was expelled for saying that nobody at the Academy was good enough to examine him.

Dali was a painter with outstanding painting skills. He was best known for his striking and bizarre images in his surrealist works but he also painted some realistic paintings. His painting skills are often compared to the Renaissance painters. He also experimented with the Cubist Style and was influenced by the Dada movement throughout his life.

His exhibitions of work attracted many people and he received mixtures of praise and puzzled debate from critics. He even came into conflict with his fellow surrealists over political beliefs. For this reason he was officially expelled from the Marxist surrealist group. Dali’s response to this expulsion was ‘Surrealism is me.’

Dali was widely known for his great imagination and for his affinity for doing unusual things which made people come to him. It also made some of his art lovers get annoyed as much as it did to some critics. This made people purchase his art works and he became purposed sought notorious.

The Persistence of Memory

Monday, April 14th, 2008

The Persistance of Memory by DaliSurrealists appreciated Dali for his ‘Paranoiac critical method’ of accessing the subconscious as greater artistic creativity. Dali’s most famous work is ‘The Persistence of Memory’ (1931), sometimes called Soft Watches or Melting Clocks. The work introduced the surrealistic image of soft, melting pocket watches.

The general interpretation of Dali’s ‘The Persistence of Memory’ is that soft watches debunk the assumption that time is rigid and deterministic and this is supported by other images in that work like the wide landscaping, the ants and the fly that devour the other watches.

Dali, as he explained inspired himself on camembert cheese to Saint the watches in the painting. He said that these watches were “tender, extravagant, solitary and paranoid“. Watches, just like memory, softened with the pass of time. Dali once said about the painting: “Just as I am surprised that a bank employee has never eaten a check, I am equally surprised that no other painter before me thought about painting a soft watch”.

This painting has historical significance in surrealism and is an icon within the genre. It explains the creativity and expresses the time and space between real life and the imaginary life very clearly. Dali’s painting ‘The Persistence of Memory’ illustrates clearly the style of surrealism which could not be conveyed in words. This is a painting which has brought out the actual essence of time and what makes it perfect is that it is something for which you can never find the right words.


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