View Full Version : What's so "sur" about surrealism?
12-02-2002, 04:49 PM
Ok all you surrealists out there, help me out, would you? Just what is surrealism about? Anyone care to try to encapsulate their perspective regarding surrealism?
Aside from the manifesto put out by Breton, I came across a quotable that might be a launch point for further comments:
Jacques Riviere described the surrealist goal as "To grasp our being before it has yielded to consistency; to seize it in its incoherence, or better, in its primitive coherence, before the idea of contradiction has appeared and compelled it to reduce and construct itself; and to replace its logical unity, which can only be acquired, by its absurd unity, which alone is innate."
"Surrealism thus accepted the proposition that the human personality starts out as a healthy unit that is dissipated as experience is acquired and compartmentalized according to reason [Presumably Kantian categories]. Illogically related images, such as those occuring in dreams, it insisted, provide greater insight into reality than rationally organized concepts."---Edward B Henning
12-04-2002, 11:23 AM
There wasn't one 'take' on Surrealism.
Magritte's work was about concepts far different from those Dali expored, which were different from those used by Ernst, which were different from those used by deChirico, etc.
Surrealism is generally the visual exploration of unconscious mental imagery, possibly arising from dreams or other non-waking states of consciousness.
12-04-2002, 10:10 PM
Keith--"Surrealism is generally the visual exploration of unconscious mental imagery, possibly arising from dreams or other non-waking states of consciousness".
Is it the imagery (a simple matter of representing what you recall of a dream or a rich vision while under hypnosis, say?), or is it the emotional 'flavor' immanent to the images which was/is to be elicited? Or, was /is it a matter of alluding to something by means of those images, with no expectation that they would be able to "surreally" do justice to the flickering vision?
Is anyone today still doing surreal art?
12-13-2002, 09:59 PM
I believe the surrealists, through the social/political times, used their emotional interpretaions of there existential views of life to create mental and associative imagery paintings or literature through hypnosis. They also often used rough characterizations of their dreams to form art/anti-art. I don't know if they thought, or cared, what the audiences/critics interpretations were about there work, most likely not. Most of the 21st century surrealists have other art aspects (futurism, abstract, gothic..?)
12-14-2002, 12:50 PM
S, I take it from your response that surrealist art works did not represent a facsimile of the artist's glimpse of sur-reality, but merely a reminder of it. Is this correct? And, of course, if it served as just a 'reminder' of sorts for the artist, then it might be totally useless and meaningless to the viewer...until they put enough attention to the work to read something into it?
12-26-2002, 07:51 PM
I recently joined a local arts organization, and the only category in their list that remotely applied to my work was 'Surrealism'. So, that is what I selected. More and more, I do consider my work 'surreal' in nature. However, I do not accept many of the Surrealist's original concepts or beliefs.
They were very politically active (many of them were communist party members), and they were also very influenced by Freud's notion of the 'subconscious', a notion I reject.
I--personally--am interested in both the actual image, and the emotional impact of the image. I don't think many Surrealists were. I think they were more concerned with the visual trickery involving in creating irrational imagery.
But, if you really want to know what they thought, their writings are readily available.
12-28-2002, 10:23 PM
I am interested in your views on the subconsious, what dont you agree with, i personally dont agree with most the superficial freud thought but i was wondering why you disagreed? How would you describe your emotional attachment toward surrealism?
12-29-2002, 01:03 PM
I personally don't see any evidence that there is a part of my conscious mind that I cannot access--especially a part that works against my interests. Of course there are aspects of myself that I would change, but I am aware of them--they aren't hidden, unknown. Further, I am working to change them, and I don't see any evidence that there is a hidden part (or parts) of me that is resistant to this change.
The divided self, whether Freud's Ego/Id/Euperego, orvariants of the standard emotion/reason dichotomy--even the 'Left Brain/Right Brain' theories, all seem to stem from abnormal psychology, from damage or trauma.
Yes, studying problems can help us understand how things should work when everything is in order, but that isn't the attitude such studies have taken. Instead, psychology mostly claims to have found aspects of such maladies within all of us--and claims that such ailments are the norm.
I simply see no evidence that such need be the case.
If there are problems, one should work to fix them. If they are the norm, and unfixable, then they are not problems.
As for Surrealism, I don't believe that visual art's function is to re-create reality. We already have reality to look at directly. What we cannot see directly is someone else's perspective, their POV, the visual depictions of their inner states, thoughts, feelings, beliefs, values, etc.
These personal subjective experiences are what visual art allows us to share. Granted, no artist can truly esacape personalizing their art in some way. But, for many artists--and many types of art--that personalization is what the artist works to overcome. Personal commentary or perspective is not desired.
(A great deal of 'Modern' artists also claimed to be attempting to remove 'the self' from their work. Pollock's drips and even Surrealist Automatic Writing were attempts to create art without conscious control, either to empower the subconscious, or to remove the self altogether.)
Surrealism, Symbolism, and the other fantastic arts place the focus of art where I believe it should be, on the visual expression of the artist's ideas about reality, life, and the future--and humanity's place (or lack thereof) within it.
01-18-2003, 04:06 AM
Surrealism is simply the unreal made to appear real.
01-18-2003, 09:15 AM
What do you mean by 'the unreal'?
Everything that exists--even our dreams, nightmares, beliefs, opinions, thoughts (in other words, consciousness itself, and the perceptions, memories, and thoughts it contains) is real.
The 'unreal' (at least as I define the term) does not, and cannot, exist.
How do you define the term?
01-20-2003, 03:10 PM
sorry to go off topic. I was just wondering if any of you have vistited darkforum.com
It has Intelligent threads on philosophy, pschology...and its pretty big. Theres an art section, but it hasnt grown that much, maybe we can correct that. anyway, just thought you guys might like to check it out
01-20-2003, 03:29 PM
Self-examination, in my view, is an important part of your mental health. Even after years of cognitive or pschoanalysis have i seen people still finding things about them selves they never knew existed. Your subconscious has hidden caves if you chose to observe them or not. They may not work against your interests, they may actually reinvent them. I agree that the road that pschology has been and is going is juxtapostion of different people's views bound up in the msd mental disorder book. One of the problems is there tendency to avoid science. (nuerology...)in their daily practice. Hard to believe that the basis of pschology, ORDER, is the biggest problem among the pschologic community.
Sorry to go off topic again. I dont believe many of the surrealists (besides poets like lautremont and breton) thought about this much in creating their art.
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