Surrealism

Surrealism

by Mary Ann Caws
     
 

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Surrealism is a survey of the twentieth century's longest lasting and, arguably, most influential art movement. Championed and held together by Andre Breton for over forty years, Surrealism was France's major avant-garde artistic tendency from 1924 onwards, rapidly spreading around the globe to become an international phenomenon. During World War II

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Overview

Surrealism is a survey of the twentieth century's longest lasting and, arguably, most influential art movement. Championed and held together by Andre Breton for over forty years, Surrealism was France's major avant-garde artistic tendency from 1924 onwards, rapidly spreading around the globe to become an international phenomenon. During World War II Surrealism's exiled artists and writers had a major impact on American art and were a primary influence for the Abstract Expressionist generation. The official surrealist movement continued to the end of Breton's life in 1966, and its legacy is still pervasive today, in contemporary art as well as in numerous quotations from surrealist imagery in cinema, advertising and the media.

The Survey essay by Mary Ann Caws - a distinguished scholar, translator and associate of the Surrealists - describes in clear, perceptive and lively prose the essential characteristics that define Surrealism, as well as tracing a concise path through the chronology of this prolific and wide-ranging movement. The text also demonstrates how surrealist art and writing are interdependent. The Works section follows the movement from its beginnings in the 1920s up to the 1940s and 1950s. Its six sections trace the themes which predominated at different stages: Chance and Freedom - the earliest work, characterized by complete automatic spontaneity; Poetics of Vision - the strategies of surrealist image-making, reflecting the mind's inner visions; Elusive Objects - the fascination with objects of all kinds from which emerged artworks such as Meret Oppenheim's celebrated fur-lined cup and saucer; Desire - the investigation of desire, eroticism and 'mad love' which is central and unique to the movement; Delirium - Surrealism's high-risk engagement with extreme mental states and disturbing, uncanny visions; and, the Infinite Terrains of later Surrealism, ranging from Joseph Cornell's magical assemblages in box frames, like 'theatres of the mind', to the infinite fields and dynamic energy of late surrealist painting at the dawn of Abstract Expressionism.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
This solid monograph is the first book in Phaidon's expanded "Themes and Movements" series, which examines major art movements of the 20th century. The books in the series will follow the same format, each providing a comprehensive survey, extended captions, documents, and primary texts by critics, historians, and theorists. In this well-organized and nicely illustrated survey of Surrealism, Caws (comparative literature, English, & French, CUNY) discusses many of the basic ideas and tenets of the movement, emphasizing chance and freedom as the central surrealist concepts. Magritte's work using Napoleon's death mask is a highlight. Some of the works are notably more painterly than others (e.g., those by Kay Sage, Lenor Fini, Roberto Matta, and Salvador Dali), while others feel dated (e.g., those by Victor Brauner, Yves Tanguy, Jean Arp, and Andr Breton). Documents are well chosen and nicely support the rest of the book. Recommended as a comprehensive overview of the Surrealist movement for larger public libraries, libraries specializing in art history, or any library wishing to buy only one book on the topic.-Nadine Dalton Speidel, Cuyahoga Cty. P.L., Parma, OH Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780714856735
Publisher:
Phaidon Press
Publication date:
06/23/2010
Pages:
208
Sales rank:
1,361,626
Product dimensions:
9.92(w) x 11.40(h) x 0.69(d)
Age Range:
12 - 18 Years

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Meet the Author

Mary Ann Caws is Distinguished Professor of Comparative Literature, English and French, at the Graduate Center, City University of New York. Her many publications include writings on surrealist and modernist art and literature and translations of writers and poets such as Andre Breton, Rene Char, Stephane Mallarme and Tristan Tzara. Her books include Robert Motherwell: What Art Holds (Columbia University Press, 1995); The Surrealist Look: An Erotics of Encounter (MIT Press, 1997) and Picasso's Weeping Woman: The Life and Art of Dora Maar (Little, Brown/Thames & Hudson, 2000). Books she has edited include Joseph Cornell's Theatre of the Mind: Selected Diaries, Letters and Files (Thames & Hudson, 2000); Manifesto: A Century of Isms (University of Nebraska Press, 2000); and Surrealist Love Poems (Tate/University of Chicago Press, 2002).

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