Friday, July 1, 2011

On Surrealism

On Surrealism: Although labeled a cultural movement in early twentieth-century Europe, surrealism mainly pertained to the visual arts. Its core tenets were largely philosophical insofar as surrealist artists encouraged observers to think through the confusion and unexpectedness in their works. Artists such as René Magritte (whose work Not to be Reproduced - 1937 - is on display in the above picture) and Max Ernst fit the surrealist mold by featuring the element of unconscious surprise in their paintings. The twisting of reality was certainly avant-garde at the time, especially since it signified a new barrier of consciousness for the mind to overcome. In Magritte's Not to be Reproduced, the man expects to see his face properly reflected in the mirror, as the book on the mantelpiece is accurately reflected. But the man only sees the back of his head, which either complicates or resolves the primordial pain of vanity for him. If there ever was a painting that captured the dysfunctional nature of existential anxiety, this was it.

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