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The Berlin Dadaists shouted that something was seriously wrong with the world. De Chirico forced his audience to the same conclusion by slyly disorientating them.
In Turin and Florence and in Paris, where he settled in 1911, he painted deserted cityscapes, such as Enigma of an Autumn Night (1910) and Mystery and Melancholy of a Street (1914). These early metaphysical works, through sharp contrasts of light and shadow and exaggerated perspective, evoke a haunting, ominous dream world.
Technically not a member of the Surrealist movement – a precursor
Developed the basic ideas of a philosophy toward painting he called ‘Metaphysical painting’. Highly influential on the Surrealist movement.
Theory of ‘metaphysical insight’ – the reality of everyday things was explored in his painting by ridding them of their usual associations and setting them in new and mysterious relationships – in the place of the ordinary now stood the unexplainable, a place he felt was prehistoric (before conscious recording)
He wrote “Good sense and logic have no place in a work of art, which must approximate to a dream-like or child-like state of mind”.
Effect of disconnected and disconcerting dream imagery.
Use of perspective for emotional effect – not representational.
Objects usually isolated, located on an imaginary stage – creates a sense of expectancy and drama – visual stage of dreams.
Dislocated, a viewer was more open to a less rational, more suggestive, poetic sense of presence – emphasis on the dream and the irrational.
Emphasising metaphysical painting. The unconscious sexual symbolism of the towers and arcades and the empty town centres evoking an absence of unity. There is an enigmatic quality, sometimes objects appear disconnected as though surfacing from a dream. Pictorial illusions abound.
Strange distortions of perspective (primitive, inconsistent, one-point) = prophetic, emotionally charged atmosphere – space plunges away in long runs of arcades, yet contradicted by a Cubist flattening and compression – our eye is frustrated.
Light = late afternoon sun (always), long shadows, harsh ‘stage-set’ light
Usually absence of real human presence – suggested by shadow of statue (ominous) towards which a girl with a hoop (in silhouette – depersonalised image) seems drawn, as sleep walkers are drawn.
This painting made a strong impression on the Surrealists – particularly Magritte and Max Ernst.
Tanguy, Yves (1900-55). French-born American painter. Originally a merchant seaman, he was impelled to take up painting after seeing pictures by de Chirico and in 1925 joined the Surrealist group. In 1939 he emigrated to the USA, where he lived for the rest of his life, marrying the American Surrealist painter Kay Sage in 1940 and becoming an American citizen in 1948. Tanguy's most characteristic works are painted in a scrupulous technique reminiscent of that of DalÃ, but his imagery is highly distinctive, featuring half marine and half lunar landscapes in which amorphous nameless objects proliferate in a spectral dream-space
Absolute nutter – claimed he was once carrying an 8ft. Long loaf of bread when he tripped, dropped it – and never saw it again.
Rejected the “sleep” (automatism) of the Surrealists to produce art from a state he called “critical paranoia” – claimed one should cultivate genuine delusion as in clinical paranoia while remaining residually aware at the back of one’s mind that the control of the reason and will has been deliberatively suspended. ( the paranoiac-critical method – meant looking at one thing and seeing another)
Best know for his representational (like Magritte) style of painting images which are recognisable but generally resistant to rational interpretation.
Created an unreal ‘dream’ space and hallucinatory imagery – Said Dali “it is enough to do the painting, much less try to understand it”.
Psychological automatism – said his paintings were a direct transcription of things envisioned in a dream-like or trance-like state (could substitute delusion for reality at will) – however made knowing use of images drawn from standard textbooks on psychology.
Imagery often related to Freudian ideas of sexuality
‘ Paranoic-critical method’ used to create trick double reading – eg. Hand sprouts from ground holding an enormous egg – from whose cracked shell a narcissus sprouts – can be made to “turn into” the figure of Narcissus in the background, gazing into the pool
Dream landscape – (from de Chirico) – flat, desert-like plane, where strange objects meet.
Clear and precise detail, smooth, polished paint application, strong tonal modelling – had discovered that extreme realism could subvert one’s sense of reality (disruptive) – this technique could make any vision, no matter how outrageous and irrational, seem persuasively real.
Melting (soft) watches (derived from a dream of runny Camembert – to represent time devouring itself and everything else), jewel like ants (to represent anxiety), sanity beach, biomorphic blob! ( a profile of the artist, nose turned to the ground)
Soft Construction with Boiled Beans – Premonition of Civil War 1937
Soft Construction with Boiled Beans – Premonition if Civil War 1936
Dali wrote of this work, “The foreboding of civil war haunted me. As the painter of intestinal paroxysms I completed my picture Premonition if Civil War six months before the outbreak of war in Spain. This picture, garnished with boiled beans, shows vast human body breaking out into monstrous excrescences of arms and legs tearing at one another in a delirium of auto-strangulation. The title Premonition of Civil War, which I gave the picture six months before war broke out, once again showed the truth of Dali’s prophecies”.
Use of low viewpoint – sense of threat/power
Distorted, contorted forms in Surrealist infinite space.
Earlier involved with Dada (Arp) in Cologne (organised an exhibition where visitors entered through the lavatories and axes were provided so they could smash the exhibits if they felt so inclined.
Joined the Surrealist movement in 1924 – admired Freuds psychological breakthroughs.
Pioneering exponent of frottage
Ernst saw no difference between dream and reality – aimed to bring us face to face with a universe full of fruitful, but unexpected combinations.
Two Children are Threatened by a Nightingale 1924
The ‘Nightingale’, painted above the wooden posts of the gate (bird-cage door?), can be clearly localised, yet it’s presence confuses the beholder since the behaviour of the children to it’s appearance is incomprehensible.
Menace of something intangible and inconceivable, of something that cannot be located at any one spot which is responsible for the sense of terror and fear in this picture.
Shows influence of Freud – dream-like imagery – hallucinatory power
Bright, surreal colours – feeling of illogical Surrealist dreams.
Critique of Western Civilisation – portrays the carnage of a Europe at war – apocalyptical landscape.
Use of process of ‘decalcomania’ – technique where the image results accidentally from laying one sheet on another which already contains oil or some other wet medium (chance – genuine automatic imagery) – to create hallucinatory realism – illustrates trend 1. and 2.
Painted just before he emigrated to America
Features living beings – torso of women embedded in the swamp, bird-like creatures or guards, ox with a skull-like head, armed with steel cuffs in bizarre dreamscape of landscape/architecture
Breton said, “Miro may rank as the most Surrealist of us all”.
A spontaneity of manner and liberated imagination
Like Masson, used Cubist shallow space and developed an abstract form of Surrealism – organic forms reminiscent of Arp – however always denied being an abstractionist, “For me a form is never something abstract – it is always a sign of something. eg. A man, a bird etc”.
Used automatism to create biomorphic forms which inhabit a site of dream/reality.
Studied the paintings of children and primitive peoples (both Surrealists interests) – to produce figures and images reminiscent of children’s art and neo-lithic cave art.
Features a bizarre assembly of insect-like creatures dancing and making music – a scene inspired by ‘my hallucination brought on by hunger’ and produced by staring at the cracks in his ceiling (“I saw shapes on the ceiling..”)
Developed his works by freely drawing a series of lines without considering what they might be or become, a technique called automatism, which he learned from Masson. Next he consciously reworked the lines into the fantastic animal and vegetable forms that they suggested to his imagination.
Biomorphic forms illustrate an enthusiastic and exuberant mixture of the automatic technique and the inner dream world.
Use of Psychological automatism – where dream images are used, or an unreal dream space is created – unexpected and startling juxtapositions of unrelated objects to create a sense of compelling reality outside the everyday world.
This was done using Representational means – a kind of magic realism – careful and precise delineation of detail, blunt, matter-of-fact quality of his technique emphasised the hallucinatory quality of his imagery – Magritte (and Dali) used representational style to communicate their vision as clearly as possible – representational mode of presentation considered most accessible to the public
Repeatedly exploited ambiguities – eg. Night and day