Archive for January, 2009



Surrealism grew out of the Dada movement. the word “Dada” was randomly selected out of a dictionary. It fitted as it was a non-sense childish word. Dadaism situated itself mainly around New York, Switzerland, Germany and France. It was concerned with many creative art forms, including poetry, collage and literature. It started to disband in the 1920’s but revived itself as the Surrealism Movement shortly after. Beginning in Paris in 1924, the Surrealists took particular interest in dreams and the unconscious. They often searched junk shops and markets for unusual, strange objects they could incorporate in their art. Like Dadaism, Surrealism revolved around many different art forms, even affecting film and music. Its leader, Audre Breton, although creating some collage and sculptural works, was mainly a writer. 


Surrealism is related to Cubism as it is another form of abstract art. It didn’t distort the image and rearrange it as the Cubists done. Instead the abstraction lay in the subject matter. Picasso was also associated with the movement, though he was not a member. Another influence was by Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytical theories. Their works were also reactions to WW1, the devastation involved and the reasoning’s behind it.

SALVADOR DALI  (1904-1989)

The Persistence of Memory (1931)


Pocket watches are drooping and melting, folding round their surfaces like slices of cheese in the sun. Its an increadably strange sight seeing something of solid form acting in this way. The material in the centre looks like the skin off the side of some ones face, complete with eye lids and lashes.



This reminds me of the face in The Persistence of Memory. The skin here also give the image of material, sloping down. Or possibly even it melting as the end of the head trails off. There is a sense of great weight involved. Gravity is pushing the face downwards, and the weak, fragile sticks supporting it look as though they will give way at any moment. 

YVES TANGUY (1900-1955)

Indefinite Divisibility (1942)


I find this very intriguing. It was painted in 1942, the middle of WWII. I think it looks like structures made with metal sticks and disks held together with plasticine. They look like they could be some sort of insects with long spiky legs, there is something alive about them, even with their cold metal bodies.

RENE MAGRITTE (1898-1967)

The Listening Room (1953)


This apple is completely out of proportion, taking up an entire room. It reminds me of a dolls house, which makes me wonder what is going on here. Whether the apple is extremely large or the room is just very small. 




Cubism was founded in Paris by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque between 1907 and 1910. In 1907 Picasso exhibited his revolutionary piece Les Demoiselles D’Avignon, the first work of the movement. The artists used sharp lines, fragmenting the images to create unusual, abstract works. They took what they saw and changed it, making them appear flat and altering the angles. They also wanted to show entire scenes at once, from all the different angles. The movement was short lived, being mainly brought to an end with the outbreak of WW1 in 1914. Many key members had been called up for military duties. But perhaps its disbandment was inevitable anyway- the style had already been changing and moving forward for some time prior to war. But there were different phases involved in the movement, some of which still continued on after war.


The Cubists took fauvism a step further. Beginning  at the end of the 19th century, the Fauvists wanted to scrap everything and return back to basic, simple art. They used flat patterns, distorted images and bright blocks of colour. They were named Les Fauves (French for wild beasts) for their violent approach to their art. Cubism expanded on this idea on even more, using straight lines, cubes and patterns. They were also influenced by African art, in particular masks.

PABLO PICASSO (1881-1973)

“Les Demoiselles D’Avignon”


In 1907 Picasso painted and exhibited Les Demoiselles D’Avignon. It was not just a radical turning point in Picassos art, but it is considered the first work of Modern Art. It is also the first Cubist work. Five nude prostitutes, partially draped in white sheets, stare openly out of the painting at the on looker. Their bodies have been flattened, making them sharp and angular. Besides the two figures in the middle, their faces look as if they are hidden behind masks, having been mutilated by the the bold blocks of colour and shading. I’m in two minds about how this painting makes me feel. Its sharpness creates a violent nature. But the flow of the white and blue material makes the scene feel a lot calmer. It attracted large amounts critisism and disgust at the time. Not only by the raw subject material, but the jagged, harsh unsettlingly aggressive manner in which it has been painted. It also caught the attention of Georges Braque, who went on to found Cubism with Picasso.

GEORGES BRAQUE (1882-1963)

“Grand NU”


He was involved in the Fauvism movement until he and Picasso started work on Cubism. In response to Les Demoiselles D’Avignon, Georges Braque painted Grand NU in 1908. It has clear reference to Picassos piece. Only one model is used, in a similar pose. The bluish sheet is also in the background, flowing down in a jagged form. Once again bold outlines and blocks of colour are used, with a similar colour sceme. 

Bottles and Fishes (1910)


This shows how far the Cubists took abstracting and distorting images. Some works became almost completely unrecognisable. The viewer has to concentrate harder to make out the composition. Its very striking and bold, with sharp shapes of colour.