Surrealism, the history of a great art movement

Surrealism Art Dictionary

In order to understand surrealism, one must first understand the definition of many of its central terms.


Surrealism is a cultural and philosophical movement that seeks to dismantle a person's preconceived notions by presenting reality through its raw thought-forms, without reason or judgment to color it. Surrealism - Learn more

Surrealist (artist, painter):

A surrealist is a creator of art, whether visual or literary, who ascribes to the central tenants of the philosophy of Surrealism, and presents reality through this point of view in his art. Surrealist - Learn more

The Persistence of Memory:

This is one of the most famous surrealist works of all time, featuring melting clocks spread over a desert-like dreamscape with a strange human-like character (intended to be a self-portrait of the artist) napping in their midst. This work is iconic and instantly-recognizable by even many non-artists. It was created by Salvador Dalí in 1931. The Persistence of Memory - Learn more

Surrealist artwork:

Surrealist art is not always easy to define, but it essentially consists of art that falls in line with the central philosophy of the Surrealism movement, and attempts to show reality without the filter of reason or judgment. Typical elements that are found in surrealist artwork are dream-like landscapes, where objects and characters are depicted in a realistic style, but their circumstances are strange and seemingly random, like a visual stream-of-consciousness. Surrealist artwork - Learn more


Biography is essentially a work that highlights the major points of a person's life and attempts to capture the essence of who they were through the written word. Biography - Learn more

Exquisite Corpse:

Exquisite Corpse is a surrealist technique of collaborative art where words or drawn pictures are contributed by each artist in turns to produce a single work. The rules of the technique usually require that the current artist whose “turn” it is to contribute can only view the part of the piece that the previous artist contributed, so that every creator only views a limited portion of the overall work until it is finished. Other rules can be added on top of these to make the game more complex, for example, requiring that only certain kinds of words or grammar be used in turn when constructing a written work. Exquisite Corpse - Learn more

Automatic writing:

Automatic writing is a surrealist technique used to allow the subconscious mind to reveal its contents through the act of writing without direction or conscious thought. The automatic writer is not directed by his own judgment or thoughts, but rather by the “automatic” movement of his hand, guided by his subconscious—or, some believe, by a higher power of sorts. It is also used by spiritualists as an attempt to channel messages from supernatural entities. Automatic writing - Learn more

Surrealist cinema:

Like surrealist painting, surrealist cinema came about in the 1920's and served as yet another vehicle to express surrealist cultural thought. Surrealist films are recognizable by their lack of dramatic plot and tendency to flaunt shocking images. Like any other kind of surrealist art, its focus is on the subconscious mind rather than the conscious judgment or reason of the human mind. Surrealist cinema - Learn more

Rupture (Surrealist) :

Rupture was a surrealist group founded in the year 1934 in the town of La Louvière that consisted of several artists. Surrealist group - Learn more

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