Thereare many art movements that have evolved over the years. Eachmovement is characterized by certain features that make it unique anddifferent from other movements. With each movement, there are newdiscoveries and emergence of new forms of art that are embraced inmost parts of the world, and passed over to the next art movement.Art movements mainly encompass transition from one art period to theother. A movement in arts can give rise to another movement this isevident in the various art movements that have been encountered overthe years. This paper will discuss Surrealism and pop art andevaluate the relationship between the two art periods. In thediscussion, the paper will focus on the time periods within which themovements took place, as well as the developments experienced duringeach period.
Theorigin of Surrealism can be traced to the late years of 1910s andearly years of 1920s this literary movement brought with it newforms of expression, which were referred as automatic writing. Thefirst presentation of Surrealism took place in Paris, in 1924. Theartists who can be credited for having introduced this art movementinclude Andre Breton, who was both a critic and a poet. After it hadbeen introduced, Surrealism gained a lot of recognition worldwide asmany people embraced it as both an intellectual and politicalmovement. At first, Surrealist poets did not want to associatethemselves with the notion of visual arts. They objected drawing,painting, as well as sculpting since they believed that these aspectsof art were not on in line with expressionism. However, these artistsaccepted these aspects later on and embraced them in their works ofart (Caillois et al, 2003).
Eachart movement is characterized by some features, which depict themajor elements that guide the movement. One of the key features thatcharacterized Surrealism was the exploration of the unconsciousnessand the dream as a type of reality. This related to the writings ofSigmund Freud. Surrealism was also based on the depiction of imagesthat could be seen as sexually perverse, as well as images thatportrayed violence and moral decadence in the society. During thesurrealist period, artists believed that the notion of theunconscious by Sigmund Freud was instrumental in helping them tap theimagery and pictures that seemed untapped. With the psychoanalytictheory of Sigmund Freud, it became possible to draw a clear boundarybetween reality and fantasy. Moreover, some drives such as desires,and fears could be easily addressed (Bate, 2004).
Duringthe Second World War, Surrealism became a popular art movement as itspread across Europe and America. In 1937, one of the Surrealists,Ernst, began experimenting with two processes that could be seen asunpredictable. These processes included grattage and decalcomania.Grattage entailed the art of using canvas to scrap pigment thecanvas could be placed on a surface that had some texture.Decalcomania encompassed using a painted surface to press a sheet ofpaper and peeling off the sheet after pressing (Bate, 2004). Thesetechniques were useful in portraying the themes of violence as couldbe seen in artworks such as the “Barbarians.”
InSurrealism, the main trends included figurative Surrealism andAbstract Surrealism. Figurative Surrealism was based in figurationand the reproduction of natural forms of art. On the other hand,abstract Surrealism related to imagery and it had little emphasis onnatural shapes. One of the most famous artists who can be associatedwith figurative Surrealism is Rene Magritte, a Belgian Surrealist.His main focus was on naturalistic figures, which were academic butat the same time illusionistic. His main works involved painting withthe use of objects that are used in everyday life. AbstractSurrealism objected the use of geometric shapes and embraced the useof emotional and visual objects. Some of the major techniques used inSurrealism include fumage or smoking. This technique encompassedplacing a candle together with a paper and the resulting patternresembled soot. Automatic drawing was also another technique employedin Surrealist art. This involved the use of a pen to draw an imagewithout any conscious plan (Caillois et al, 2003).
Surrealismhad a huge impact in the field of art as it give rise to otherschools of thought. In the 1950s and 1960s, there was transition fromSurrealism to Pop Art. The contemporary forms of art are also relatedto this art period. Most of the techniques and styles used in Pop Artwere related to Surrealism and this implies that popular forms of artborrowed a lot from Surrealists. The main idea behind Surrealism wasto ensure that the human mind was liberated and address theunconsciousness of the mind. With the intention to go beyond thereal, Surrealism has contributed to the transfer of reality and thishas seen the rise of modern movements and revolutions in Pop Artculture. Pop culture has brought with it modernity and modern formsof art, most of which borrow from the thinking of Surrealists(Osterwold, 2003).
Duringthe late years of 1950s and early years of 1960s, Surrealism wasslowly dying and popular art was replacing it. Pop Art can beassociated with the works of artists in the city of New York. Some ofthe most famous artists that contributed to this movement includedClaes Oldenburg, Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol and James Rosenquist.Pop Art deviated from the themes employed in the traditional forms ofart. It had little emphasis on morality and classical historyemphasis was mainly placed on the objects that people experienced intheir everyday life. Since the introduction of pop Art, it has becomethe most dominant art form in the modern times. Over the years, themain focus of pop culture has been the reduction in the boundariesthat have existed between the low and high culture. This has involvedthe creation of sculptures and paintings that depict mediapersonalities and celebrities. With pop Art, there is a common beliefthat culture should not necessarily be classified in hierarchies. Popculture is also guided by the notion that there is no source fromwhich art cannot borrow (Osterwold, 2003).
Someof the artworks produced during Surrealism related to the works ofart produced during the era of Pop Art. For example, a Surrealistwork such as Flight of the Churches by Brigid Marlin can be comparedto Mustard on white, which was done by Roy Lichtenstein. The twopaintings display the use of color in both Pop Art and Surrealism.From the two images, it is clear that color was a defining factor inthe paintings done during these two art periods. Color used torepresent the attractiveness of the paintings done during the twoperiods, as well as the attention of the artists on detail. Popculture had an impact on later art periods such as Avant Garde, whichborrowed a lot from Pop Culture. In the 1960s and 1970s, Avant Gardegained popularity I the United States and most of its artistic formsblended with Pop Art. The emergence of Pop Art had a significantimpact on the future art world. For example, Pop Aart influenceddesign, clothing patterns, as well as fashion. With the advent of PopArt, there was emergence of new designs that were embraced in mostparts of the world.
Therelationship between Surrealism and Pop Art can be seen in the searchfor trauma by artists in both movements. While artists in thesurrealist movement relied on the soul as the source of trauma, thesource of trauma for artists in the pop culture is cartoons, as wellas advertisements. However, Pop Art has over the years portrayed thatthe access to any form of art should not be mediated. In pop culture,it is assumed that there is an interconnection of various aspects,and the relationship between the various forms of art should work.Pop culture is wide and this can be exemplified by the wide varietyof works that are employed in this art form. In addition, theartworks portrayed in pop culture depict the varying postures, aswell as attitudes of the forms of artwork created by artists(Osterwold, 2003).
Bate,D. (2004). Photographyand Surrealism: Sexuality, Colonialism and SocialDissent.New York: I.B. Tauris.
Caillois,R., Frank, C., & Naish, C. (2003). Theedge of Surrealism: A Roger Caillois reader.Durham: Duke University Press.
Osterwold,T. (2003). PopArt.Köln London: Taschen.