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Movement in the visual arts and literature that flourished in Europe between World Wars I and II. Surrealism grew principally out of the earlier Dada movement, which before World War I produced works of anti-art that deliberately defied reason; Surrealism developed in reaction against the rationalism that had led to World War I. The movement was founded in 1924 by André Breton as a means of joining dream and fantasy to everyday reality to form an absolute reality, a surreality. Drawing on the theories of Sigmund Freud, he concluded that the unconscious was the wellspring of the imagination. Breton was a poet, but Surrealism's major achievements were in painting. Some artists practiced organic, emblematic, or absolute Surrealism, expressing the unconscious through suggestive yet indefinite biomorphic images (e.g., Jean Arp, Max Ernst, André Masson, Joan Miró). Others created realistically painted images, removed from their context and reassembled within a paradoxical or shocking framework (Salvador Dalí, René Magritte). With its emphasis on content and free form, Surrealism provided a major alternative to the contemporary, highly formalistic Cubist movement and was largely responsible for perpetuating in modern painting the traditional emphasis on content.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Surrealism, visit Britannica.com.
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