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Writings: The Future of Surrealism

Evidently nobody cares what art historians say. Surrealism lives on.
Some art-savvy folks claim the original 20th century definition of Surrealism by André Breton to be null and void, while there are artists out there who stubbornly persist in creating 20th century artworks.
There has got to be more to it though.

Did you know that the word “Surrealism” was coined by Guillaume Apollinaire?
He was a French writer and art critic, born in Rome, Italy. The word Surrealism was first used in his 1917 play called “The Breasts of Tiresias”, to describe his new style of drama.

After all, we are well into the 21st century and Surrealism seems to persist, and stubbornly insist on its existence.
Surrealism is a breathing part of our collective unconscious and it’s not about to go anywhere. Most people don’t even care about tedious definitions, but even the artsy educated crowd is more likely to be comfortable with the term surreal than it is with Surrealism.
It’s the -ism.
That is what defines it as an art movement and then, as such, places it within imposed boundaries or limitations, which is actually a rather silly idea. But that’s just how our civilization likes to roll. It enjoys imposing limitations on individuals and the species as a whole, e.g. our society.

The First Surrealist Manifesto acknowledged precursors of Surrealism that embodied the Surrealist spirit.
The Surrealist spirit. That’s what it’s all about.
The Surrealist spirit existed long before the Surrealist movement, so of course it cannot perish nor fade. It didn’t begin in the 20th century, that is merely when it was discovered and claimed.

Oldest known example of a wooden wheel
This is what the oldest known example of a wooden wheel looks like. It is over 5000 years old. Modern wheels look quite different from this artifact, and yet we still call them wheels.

Surrealism is the Wheel

The discovery of the wheel goes back thousands of years, yet that doesn’t make it an artifact in our time! The wheel is no less present today than it was in ancient times. If anything, it has more functions and applications in our modern day and age.
The materials of the wheel have changed over time, new applications for it did and continue to get discovered as we move on as a species, yet the wheel – the discovery -lives on. It is incorporated into our lives and into society, it is a part of us. For the most part the term is unchanged, but with new applications come new titles, such as gear or tire, to name just a couple.

A wheel is a circular component that is intended to rotate on an axial bearing.”

That definition is applicable for many new discoveries since the original one. The wheel is the base or the foundation, but the fact that there have been new discoveries and developments of it has never made the wheel null and void.

Surrealism is not much different. Yes, it is a style of art, and not an object, but the comparison stands.

Surrealism is a style of art stressing the subconscious or non-rational significance of imagery arrived at by automatism or the exploitation of chance effects, unexpected juxtapositions, etc.”

Surrealism aimed at expressing imaginative dreams and visions free from conscious rational control.”

Divine Fury Looking at most of my paintings and artworks, these definitions of Surrealism do apply. The only difference is that my art is not completely “free from conscious rational control”, though it is to some extent. Not a Still Life My conscious rational mind may think up the initial concept, but the final piece always becomes more than that. My art is a blend of Surrealism, Magic Realism and Symbolism, with Fantastic and Visionary vibes throughout (or so I’ve been told) and yet it is always surreal, and even surrealistic.

The mediums and the applications of Surrealism may have slightly changed over time, and they continue to evolve, but the surreal persists for a simple reason: We love it, we need it, and we always will.

Sabina Nore
October 2013

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