Surrealism and Andre Breton

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Surrealism is a style of art and literature stressing the subconscious or non-rational significance of imagery. Andre Breton is thought to be the founding leader of the surrealist movement. Breton was a follower of Dadaism movement but believed it should have more of a direction. Dada art was known as anti-art by its proponents, it stood in direct opposition of everything art stood for. Where ‘art’ was concerned with aesthetic, ‘anti-art’ was not. Dadaism was a protest against war and characterized by deliberate irrationality. Surrealism was greatly influenced by Dadaism and was thought to be the means of reuniting conscious and unconscious realms.

The Surrealist movement grew exponentially in Europe between World War I and World War II. Unlike Dadaism, whose emphasis was on negation, Surrealism sought a more constructive way to rebel against rational thought with its emphasis was on positive expression. The art of surrealism uses visual imagery from the subconscious mind to create art without the intention of logical comprehensibility. Surrealism was a reaction to Dadaism, which was itself a reaction to the “logic” that Dadaists believed had caused the war.

Andre Breton was born the son of a shopkeeper in Tinchebray in 1896. Breton was a budding poet in his childhood, he was even friends with the well known poet Paul Valery in his youth. He went on to study medicine and then later psychiatry. Andre met Sigmund Freud in 1921 in Vienna and later practiced Freud’s methods of psychoanalyzing while serving in a neurological ward during World War I. Breton and other surrealists attempted to expand their minds by reconciling the apparently contradictory states of dream and reality. They even conducted experiments where they put themselves in a hallucinatory state thinking that they could extract pure thoughts from their subconscious minds.

According to Breton the definition of Surrealism is "pure psychic automatism, by which an attempt is...
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