Surrealism is a cultural movement that began in the early 1920s and is best known for its visual artworks and writings. ‘Surrealism’ was first coined by Guillaume Apollinaire to describe his play Les Mamelles de Tirésias (1917), which was written in reaction to the horrors of World War I and featured the character of an old woman who gives birth to a hand. The term has been applied since the 1960s to any works that are strange, fantastic, or dreamlike.
Surrealist artists sought to break down traditional notions of art and reality by emphasizing the importance of the unconscious mind in human experience, particularly dreams. Many Surrealist artists were influenced by Sigmund Freud’s theories about the unconscious mind.
Surrealist art typically features unexpected juxtapositions, strange creatures that challenge traditional notions of what is real and what is not real. It often uses elements from dreams and nightmares. Some Surrealist artists also experimented with automatism — creating images without conscious thought or control — while others sought to break down traditional notions of art and reality through absurdist humor or symbolism.
The goal of Surrealism was to “resolve the previously contradictory conditions of dream and reality”.