Surrealist Visions

One of the most fascinating and influential art movements of the 20th century has been Surrealism. The Surrealists were not concerned merely with aesthetics, but tried to create a new attitude towards life -- a corrected vision of the world.

The Surrealist Movement was a revolutionary event in the ideological history of our century -- differing fundamentally from all other artistic movements of our time in that it sprang from a much wider context and strived for a total transformation of life. Rooted in the romanticism of Nietzsche, as well as the writings of Freud, Einstein and Marx, and the poetry of Apollinaire and Rimbaud, the movement was based on literature and the idealogy of political revolution as well as new developments in medicine and psychoanalysis.

This engrossing exhibit from Blair-Murrah includes original prints by all of the important artists of the movement: Max Ernst, Rene Magritte, Salvador Dali, Man Ray, Joan Miro, Andre Masson, Marcel Duchamp, Wilfredo Lam, Roberto Matta, Yves Tanguy and others.

Also included is a rare set of 21 Surrealist photogravure postcards. Produced in Paris in 1937, this set shows the diverse styles of each member of the Surrealist group at the height of the movement.

From the beginning Surrealism was characterized by two different approaches and ideologies. One approach was to use free-association and the imagery of dreams. This type of surrealism was exemplified in the work of Max Ernst, Rene Magritte and Salvador Dali, who carried it to hallucinatory extremes.

An alternative method was created by Picasso and Miro -- improvisation and images that were suggestive or ambiguous rather than figurative. Andre Masson and Roberto Matta became principal exponents of this approach.

This exhibition shows the extraordinary flowering and dissemination of Surrealism. Although it ended as a coherent movement with the outbreak of World War II, it continued to be a major influence in western art during the 1940's and 1950's and its ideas have become a vital part of our political and cultural heritage. Surrealism taught us that the step-by-step narrative approach of 19th century art was not necessarily the only one, and by creating new artistic conventions, Surrealist artists found methods of interchange between people about matters that were incommunicable before.