Surrealism is an art form that truly takes time to appreciate the nuanced and layered approach to the various paintings which fall into this genre – and the interpretation of what is being portrayed is up for grabs (though often, it includes a note on humanities fragilities and shortfalls as well as our collective hopes and dreams).
The dreamy styles are often juxtaposed with figures that somehow both add to the scene in question, as well as drive you to question the images showcased. If you’ve yet to appreciate the social commentary and dreamy whimsy of surrealism, then below are some of the most influential and well recognised of the surrealist painters to date.
1. Joan Miro – The Tilled
Fauvism painter Joan Miro entered into a period of surrealist art with his work The Tilled Field. The numerous images that dot the vibrant landscape each have a part to play in its interpretation – the flying birds, national flag, tilled field and wavy animals are all recognisable, while plenty of lesser-known symbolic images are artfully placed about.
The painting reflects the political landscape of Spain during the 1920’s with free spirited ideals standing in contrast to a culture of neglect and dictatorship.
2. Salvador Dali – The Persistence Of Memory
The icon image of melting clocks is one that is as popular as NZ Roulette games and which mesmerises viewers from the get-go. It’s the central theme in The Persistence of Memory and encompasses plenty of ideas not the least of which is how we perceive ourselves within the space-time continuum, the desire to capture moments and make them our own, as well as shape the world to our own desires while time slips away.
There are plenty of other famous and iconic Dali images to peruse if this strikes a chord including various reworks of it, such as The Disintegration of the Persistence of Memory, the Nobility of Time, and the Three Dancing Watches.
3. Leonora Carrington – Ulu’s Pants
Considered to be one of the top multidisciplinary female artists in the surrealist movement, Leonora Carrington has had a huge variety of well-known works to choose between. Her artwork Ulu’s Pants broaches several Celtic themes and myths along with tying in some Mexican cultural traditions that make this artwork one which is unforgettable.
The idea of self-analysis within this symbolic winding labyrinthian landscape is remarkable, while characters from legends walk the paths. The egg of rebirth or fertility being guarded by a red-head can be seen as religious or pagan, or even a feminist take on sexuality and self.
4. Rene Magritte – The Son Of Man
With a central figure of a man facing a hanging apple, the world-famous The Son of Man painting has many interpretations. From likening it to man’s desires, to the divide between subconscious and conscious, as well as the religious theme of the original apple of sin, this simple at first image has many different layers to unearth.
The images of men in bowler hats used by Rene Magritte were said, by the artist, to depict the generic. The kind of middle-class anonymity that the artist claims he too sought out, in order not to singularize himself.