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Surrealism
Article contributed by member artist Nigel Sansom
Surrealism, like all other styles of art, is a form of expression of what an artist sees, feels and places on paper, canvas or any other material.
It is claimed that Surrealism is the reflection of the weird and the fantastic, expressing the true process of thought.

The Beginning
A group of artists and writers, refugees of World War I in Switzerland, formed a group and called themselves 'Dada'. It is said to have been chosen by random from a French dictionary, meaning a child's Hobby Horse. It was a nihilistic precursor of Surrealism that claimed a long artistic ancestry in the art of Bosch, Faselli, even Goya or any other artist interested in the weird and the fantastic. This group of artists lasted from around 1916 to 1922, spreading their influence from Zurich to Paris, Cologne and New York.

At the beginning, the idea was to be anti-art, anti-sense and anti-political which was unlike Surrealism in later years. The most characteristic work of art at that early period, was the reproduction of the Mona Lisa with a beard and moustache along with an obscene caption added to it. Picabia and Duchamp would make things like 'bottle dryers' or a bicycle wheel signed by Duchamp. He also tried, unsuccessfully, to exhibit a urinal, signed R. Mutt in a gallery in New York.

Collages made up with coloured pieces of paper, shuffled at random, drawings of bits of machinery. This was a direct influence from cubism that help to form Surrealist.

André Breton, while working as a doctor, discovered Freud's theories of the Unconscious while working with psychiatric cases during World War I. Through this experience, he evolved a theory of art and literature which had a great influence on Surrealism. He took the word Surréaliste from a poet called Apollinaire. Surrealism developed in two directions: pure fantasy and a reconstruction of dreams

A. Breton´s first manifesto of Surrealism was published in 1924 and the first exhibition was held in Paris a year later. Also, in 1925, Breton edited the fifth number of La Révolution Surréaliste, associating the movement with The Communist Party. On the other hand, The Communist Party by no means, identified itself with Surrealism.

Salvador Dalí
As a young Cubist painter, Salvador Dalí, arrived in Paris in 1928 and the following year, André Breton welcomed him to join the group. Nine years later, Dalí was expelled for, among other things, not agreeing with the Marxist connection of the group. He did retain the Freudian overtones. His nightmare world of ants the size of human beings, his limp pocket watches, all in realistic and absolute meticulous detail. Dabbling with the haunted world, creating religious works. Painting the crude and wilful sensationalism, painting his beloved wife Gala time and time again...
He was not only an excellent drawer and painter but also was very skilful with jewellery. He even made two films with Buñuel, the first in 1929 and the other two years later. Both film expressing Surrealism in its rawest state.

In 1940, he went to New York where he stayed till 1955. One of his publicity stunts was to throw a brick through the window of a gallery which was exhibiting his pictures. It is said that he spent a day or two behind bars.

In 1955, he returned to Catalunya, North Spain and in his last years, settled down in his castle in Figueras.

Dalí´s amazing personality, speaking as the prophet of his art either in his native Catalan, Spanish French or English. His long curled up moustache that was almost his trademark along with his wide open, staring eyes.

One day, he decided to walk down the centre of Barcelona with a large loaf of bread on his head and an omelette sticking out of his breast pocket. Was he a Marketing pioneer? Who knows.
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