Surrealist paintings -_schwappach

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  • 1. Surrealist Paintings 1Running head: Surrealist Paintings Surrealist Paintings Phase #5, Assignment #10, Individual Project #5 Author: TSgt Loren Karl-Robinson Schwappach Prepared for: Colorado Technical University HUM140-0804A-08 Art Appreciation Prepared for Professor: Tammy Starzyk Completed on: 9 November, 2008
  • 2. Surrealist Paintings 2 AbstractSurrealism or beyond realism was a twentieth century movement founded by the French writerAndre Breton in 1924. Surrealism was influenced by the theories of Sigmund Freud and CarlJung as a means to eliminate conscious control by unlocking the unconscious mind. Surrealismgrew out of the despair brought on by World War I, where generations of artists began to losefaith in rational thought and turned towards their dreams and subconscious for inspiration. TheSurrealistic style uses imagery from the subconscious to create art without intention of logicalcomprehensibility. This short paper will explore five great surrealistic paintings, there details,features, colors, realism, and feelings and the painters and world events that inspired them. Eachof the paintings offered in this work are presented in their full majestic beauty on the companionPowerPoint presentation which should be viewed in conjunction with this paper. (Surrealist Art,n.d.)
  • 3. Surrealist Paintings 3Image 1: Salvador Dali. (Spanish, 1904-1989). Illumined Pleasures. 1929. Oil and collage on composition board, 9 3/8 x 13 3/4" (23.8 x 34.7cm). The Sidney and Harriet Janis Collection. The Museum of Modern Art. Retrieved on November 9, 2008 from: A first example of a surrealist painting is Illuminated Pleasures (image 1), painted usingoil on canvas in 1929 by the artist Salvador Dali, who is considered the greatest surrealist painterin history. Illuminated Pleasures features several grand theatrical performances and vividdreamlike dramas in conflict on stage, separated in boxes, space, and thought. IlluminatedPleasures plays with the disjunction between reality and the strange world of make believeexperienced in the dark production of a movie theater. The painting features many disturbingevents reminiscent of what could be a bad acid flash back. Illuminated Pleasures is a mixture ofamazing dreams and horrific anxieties. These theatrical dreams and anxieties are illuminatedfrom the scared white blob creature standing at the top of some government building, or the two
  • 4. Surrealist Paintings 4hands fighting over a sharp bloodied knife, or the amazing creatures and mechanical wondersillustrated in the center box and on the top of the painting. There is also a sort of egg like, alienobject on the left of the stage and a lonely naked inquisitive man touching the center theater boxas if in attempt to gain entrance. The painting features many grey scale imagery as most films ofthe 1900s to the 1930s were in black and white. The artist also generously uses blue tones toadd coolness, depth, and atmosphere to his work and masterfully uses distortions of geometry,size variations and shadowing to grant wide ranges of depth. Each box in the painting is a selfcontained universe each with its own inhabitants, space, and view. There is an outline of ahuman shadow in the main frame as well as the bicyclists box indicating the presence of theexternal audience. This painting is very Freud like and seems to destroy any sense of rationalityand lawful design. It inspires feelings of love, awe, wonder, suspense, anxiety, and terror inwhat seems a swirl of textures. Dali may have been experiencing many of these contrastingemotions when he created this surreal masterpiece. The first commercially available motionpictures were introduced in the early 1900s offered an ingenious method of sharing dreams anddramas on screen. Illuminated Pleasures is the artists contribution to this incredible medium.(Illuminated Pleasures, n.d.)
  • 5. Surrealist Paintings 5Image 2: Peter Blume. (American, born in Russia, 1906–1992). South of Scranton. 1931. Oil on canvas; H. 56, W. 66 in. (142.2 x 167 cm).George A. Hearn Fund. The Museum of Modern Art. Retrieved on November 9, 2008 from: South of Scranton (image 2) created in 1931 by the artist Peter Blume is anotherwonderful example of surrealist painting. Blume emigrated with his family from Russia, andSouth of Scranton gathers many of the scenes Blume encountered during a trip while drivingthrough the coal fields of Scranton, Pennsylvania, the steel mills, quarries and locomotives ofBethlehem, and the shocking sight of navy sailors in underwear performing acrobatics aboard aship in Charleston, Carolina. South of Scranton looses all logical connections as Blumetransitions each of the scenes from his strange voyage, much like the passing of a quick dream.From the placement of the opened coal mine, the flight like stance of the four acrobats, the
  • 6. Surrealist Paintings 6appearance of a yellow castle wall set on the top of some enormous cliff, and the illogical dropof mast stairs into an open sky, the only logical, realistic component of the painting is the lakeand sky thrown in the paintings background. All of these illogical, dreamlike componentsattribute to the paintings surrealist effect. The artist used cool, sharp colors in portraying most ofthe paintings themes. South of Scranton takes the audience to a time of business and industry,instilling serious thoughts in a very confusing, and illogical manor as do most famous surrealpaintings. (South of Scranton, n.d.)Image 3: Salvador Dali. (Spanish, 1904-1989). Metamorphosis of Narcissus. 1937Oil on canvas. 511 x 781 mm frame: 820 x 1092 x 85 mm. The Tate Collection. Tate Collection. Retrieved on November 9, 2008 from: Metamorphose of Narcissus (image 3) painted in 1937 by Salvador Dali is also anexample of surrealist art. According to mythology, Narcissus was incredibly vain and fell in
  • 7. Surrealist Paintings 7love with his reflection while looking into a pool of water. Because Narcissus was incapable ofembracing his watery reflection, the gods immortalized him as a flower. Dali captures thismetamorphosis or transformation by doubling a crouching figure with his hand clutching an egg.In Metamorphose of Narcissus the flower of Narcissus sprouts from the egg indicating the resultof Narcissuss narcissism. Dali uses a wide range of warm and cold hues, shadowing, andreflection in his painting. There are several dreams like events scattered randomly in thebackground illustrating the surrealist atmosphere of the painting. The reflected image ofNarcissuss hand and flower appear extremely hazy, dreary, and much less beautiful than theoriginal painting, probably hinting that copies, and reflections are never as sharp or beautiful asthe original. The reflected image is also missing several details from the original, such asNarcissuss fingernail, and the disappearance of the Narcissus flower. The statue in thebackground centered in chess like tiles has its back facing away from the audience in a very vainexpression. The group of figures in the middle of the painting seem to be anxious on the rightside of the painting while appear engaged in violent acts in the left side of the image. Thepainting summons feelings of fear, anxiety, and remorse from the audience, all of which wereprobably intended by Dali. All of the patterns in the painting create dream like, chaotic imagerycommon in surrealist paintings, and is why Dalis Metamorphose of Narcissus is such a admiredwork of art. (Metamorphosis of Narcissus, n.d.)
  • 8. Surrealist Paintings 8Image 4: Wifredo Lam. (Cuban, 1902-1982). The Jungle. 1943. Gouache on paper mounted on canvas, 94 1/4 x 90 1/2" (239.4 x 229.9 cm).Inter-American Fund. The Museum of Modern Art. Retrieved on November 9, 2008 from: A fourth surrealistic painting worth of mention is The Jungle (image 4) created in 1943by the Wifredo Lam. Wifredo Lam was born in Cuba, and spent eight years in Europe where hebefriended Pablo Picasso which attributed to his surrealistic flare. In The Jungle several maskedfigures simultaneously appear and disappear among a thick background of bamboo. Thecreatures in the paining appear as half man and half animal immersed in a primitive, wild,overpopulated jungle. Lam uses wide ranges of green, orange, yellow, and light reds to illustratethe merging of the Cuban jungle and its monstrous inhabitants. The painting seems to be amixture of African and Cuban styles perhaps hinting at the primitive cultures and mysticismbrought into Cuba through the displacement of Africans. The painting seems to summon a
  • 9. Surrealist Paintings 9feeling of wonder, fascination and a slight sense of fear in the viewer as if staring into anunknown, mystical world for the first time. The strange illogical, disorderly arrangement oflimbs, colors and patterns give this painting the surrealistic dream like qualities. Lam may havebeen inspired to create The Jungle to offer an alternative to the wildly inaccurate andunimaginative view of the African-Cuban society popularized throughout Europe. (The Jungle,n.d.)Image 5: Yves Tanguy. (French, 1900-1955). Through Birds, through Fire, but Not through Glass , 1943oil on canvas 40 in. x 35 in. Minneapolis Institute of Arts. Retrieved on November 9, 2008 from: For one last view of surrealism in art look no further than Yves Tanguys Through Birds,through Fire, but Not through Glass (image 5) painted in 1943. Like all surrealist painters YvesTanguy wanted to make art as seen through the world of dreams and the subconscious,
  • 10. Surrealist Paintings 10combining fantasy and realism to express private experiences. Through Birds, through Fire, butNot through Glass is like glimpsing some strange, fantastic, alien-like, biomorphic form. Otherstructured objects lie and float along a beach while bathed in a bath of sunlight creating shadowsand illusions of distance. Although many of the fundamental laws of perception are common inthe painting, the strange and fantastic bends, curves, and placement of the objects could never beperceived outside of a dream like world. The objects become creatures of some strange foreignworld, were the inanimate becomes animate. Yves uses wide varieties of sharp and pastel likecolors in her painting to give form and life to her creations. Yvess Through Birds, through Fire,but Not through Glass is a great example of the beauty and creativity that can only be foundthrough subconscious thought, and may have been a reaction to the bleak, devastating realitybrought on by World War II. (Yves Tanguy, n.d.)
  • 11. Surrealist Paintings 11 ReferencesIlluminated Pleasures (n.d.). The Museum of Modern Art. Retrieved November 9, 2008 from e_number=3&template_id=1&sort_order=1Metamorphosis of Narcissus (n.d.). Tate Collection. Retrieved November 9, 2008 from Jungle (n.d.). The Museum of Modern Art. Retrieved November 9, 2008 from e_number=1&template_id=1&sort_order=1South of Scranton (n.d.). The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Retrieved November 9, 2008 from nton/objectView.aspx?&OID=210008252&collID=21&vw=0Stokstad, M. (2007). Art: a brief history (3rd ed.). Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Education, Inc.Surrealist Art (n.d.). ArtLex. Retrieved November 9, 2008 from Tanguy (n.d.). ArtsNet Minnesota. Retrieved November 9, 2008 from