Still life after death? - (Cè vita oltre le nature morte?): foodriver / Vittorio
Still life after death? – (Cè vita oltre le nature morte?): foodriver / Vittorio via Flickr

Surrealism is a form of art and literature developed between WW-I and WW-II, particularly in France.

The groundbreaking surrealist treatise of André Breton (1924) challenged 19th century Realism by advocating humor, dreaminess and the absurd. Breton, himself, was trained in medicine and psychiatry, and treated shell-shocked soldiers with Sigmund Freud‘s “talking cure” method (i.e. the psychoanalytic method).

In artistic expression and, perhaps, as a lifestyle surrealism explores sublime (or bizarre) realities apparently existing behind our conventional perceptions and paradigms.

As suggested in the above, the art form was influenced by Freud‘s model of the unconscious.

Anonym: André Breton, 1924
André Breton, 1924 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The surrealist works of Salvador Dali depict the world of dreams. Other important surrealists are Max Ernst and Jean Arp, and its impact extends to Pablo Picasso and Paul Klee.

In literature, surrealism is found in the verse of Paul Eluard, the absurd, ironic plays of Eugène Ionesco and Samuel Beckett as well as in the psychologically charged novels of William S. Burroughs. Surrealism also enters into music, film and TV.¹

Today, surrealism refers to any noticeably enhanced or distorted representation or interpretation. In everyday speech, people will say “that’s so surreal” when encountered with things or events laying just outside their psychological comfort zone. This kind of usage may be slightly positive or negative.

¹ For more, see

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