Chronology MMoCA Collects


Surrealism (1924–1945)

Surrealism was the most important art movement between World Wars I and II. Appearing first in France in the early 1920s, it soon became international in scope. Some of the most famous artists of the modern tradition, notably Salvadore Dalí and Joan Miró, helped define it. A visual parallel to the writings of Sigmund Freud, it emphasized the importance of the subconscious in the lives of human beings and creative artists.

Surrealist artists adopted two approaches to visualize the inner-world of the imagination. The first, epitomized by Salvadore Dalí, was to use a detailed realist style to create "picture postcards of dreams" in which everyday objects were placed in odd and often disturbing combinations. The other manner, embodied in the art of Joan Miró, was the development of a biomorphic abstraction of lifelike shapes to suggest the ebb-and-flow of the unconscious mind. Surrealist artists working in an abstract style could also incorporate the effects of chance and accident into their art to suggest the random play of thought. One technique for accomplishing this was "automatic drawing," which through rapid execution led to drawings that appeared devoid of rational control.

Since the period of 1920–1940, when it was the dominant art movement, Surrealism has continued to exert its influence on modern and contemporary artists.