Discover some of the most iconic painters of the surrealist movement and their most emblematic works.
Surrealism is an artistic movement that emerged in the early 1920s in Paris, but soon spread to the rest of the world. The French writer and poet, André Breton, is considered the founder of this avant-garde movement. In 1924, after discovering Sigmund Freud’s theories, he published the Manifesto of Surrealism.
Surrealist artists use different techniques and creative processes, such as automatism or the superimposition of contrasting objects, to explore the subconscious and unleash their creativity without limits or the control of reason.
Here are some of the most famous painters of the surrealist movement and their most emblematic works:
The multifaceted Spanish artist is one of the greatest exponents of surrealism, and his influence on the development of this artistic movement is undeniable. But in 1934, after a difference of opinions with the leaders of the movement, especially with Breton, he was expelled from the group.
His artistic talent and his extravagant personality made him one of the most prominent figures in the art world. A good starting point to learn more about the life and work of the creator of the paranoiac-critical method is the Dalí Theater-Museum, located in his hometown.
The Belgian painter developed his own style, called “Magic Realism”. In his works, Magritte captured ambiguous and provocative images, exploring the limits of perception and the relationship between the painted and the real world. Many of his creations depict everyday objects in unusual contexts. Using a tactic called image duplication, he would double, triple, or sometimes quadruple the same object in his paintings. Some of his best-known works are The Lovers (MoMA), The Son of Man, The Treachery of Images (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) and The False Mirror (MoMA).
The renowned English artist excelled in many fields, such as painting, sculpture and literature. Although she was born in Lancashire, Carrington developed a good part of her artistic career in Mexico. After a brief period as an inmate in a psychiatric hospital in Santander, she managed to flee to Mexico and reside there. Imaginary beings play a fundamental role in her works, where she mixes the ordinary with the magical. Celtic mythology is also evident in her art; the result of the education she received, since both her mother and grandmother were of Irish origin. Some of her most notable creations are Self-Portrait, Portrait of Max Ernst, The Magic World of the Mayans and Art 110.
Joan Miró is considered one of the most influential Spanish artists of all times, and one of the greatest representatives of surrealism. The unconscious and dream world became more present in his work after his stay in Paris, where he came in contact with the group founded by André Breton. One of his most recognized surrealist creations is The Harlequin’s Carnival, which was very well received at the time. In addition to painting, Miró excelled in the world of sculpture and also made numerous ceramic murals.
The German-born artist was one of the great promoters of Surrealism and the Dada movement. Among his many contributions was the development of the frottage technique, which consisted of placing a piece of paper over an object and “rubbing” it with a pencil to reproduce its texture. During World War II he was imprisoned and, while in prison, he explored the technique of decalcomania. The Elephant Celebes, Forest and Dove and Europe after the Rain II, are some of his most recognized works.
After being impressed by one of Giorgio de Chirico’s works, Tanguy decided to devote himself to painting. In fact, he became one of the most prominent members of André Breton’s surrealist group. A common feature in many of his works is the presence of amorphous or ghostly-looking figures in vast, abstract landscapes. His unique style is best displayed with works like Mama, Papa is Wounded!, Slowly Toward the North, or Death Awaiting His Family.