Surrealism since the 1960's

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Tuesday, 2015, October 13

During the 1960’s, The Surrealists wrote the article “We don’t hear it that way”, an article  which was a tirade against Dalí’s participation in an international exhibition of Surrealism in New York. Dali in the same year, began work on The World of Salvador Dalí, a book that was a joint effort with Mr. Robert Descharnes, eventually  published  in 1962.

The Surrealist movement was founded in Paris by a select group of writers and artists who sought to channel the unconscious as a means to unlock the power of the imagination. Writers and artsist such as Man Ray, Max Ernst and Dali of course, formed the groups major figureheads.  Influenced by psychoanalysis, the Surrealists believed the conscious mind repressed the power of the imagination; they disowned rationalism and sought Out the  anxieties of  the mind and body, transforming them into artistic or literary realities.  Influenced by Marx and his writing in the communist Manifesto, (p.1848) the Surrealists  hoped that the psyche had the power to reveal the contradictions in the everyday world and spur on revolution. The revolution   never came, it was just a passing fad in the ever transmuting art world,  typically arbitrary and anti- establishment.  The Surrealists however weren’t without their influence, went on to shape many later movements, and the style remains influential to this today.

At the height of the Surrealist period, in 1974, the illustrated book ‘After Fifty years of Surrealism’ was published, containing colour etchings by Salvador Dali.  These etchings depict twelve pictorial and historic moments of particular significance in the life of the artist."The laurels of happiness" is set in Dalí's birthplace, where he is shown with his favourite recurring symbols: the crutch, the Spanish beans and the melted watch.  In another etching, entitled "Flung out like a fag-end by the big-wigs" Dalí recalls his estrangement from the Surrealist movement in 1936.  Another autobiographical event is portrayed in "A shattering entrance to the USA" where the young Dalí, soon after his arrival in New York, broke the store windows at the Bonwitt Teller department store and hit the headlines by being arrested.

Looking at works by Salvador Dali during the surrealist movement, we can analyze his sense of depiction and representation of ideas drawn from the unconscious mind, his studies of Sigmund Freud and his fascination of the sciences. Snails, crutches, open drawers, elephants with deer-like cloven feet, all of these images have elements drawn from Surrealism. Dali sculpture portrays these elements of surrealism, an iconography that marks all of the art created during Dali’s lifetime.