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Surrealism was a movement in both art and literature that shared some of the "irrational" qualities of the Dada movement, but was much more positive in spirit. Surrealism was based on the exploration of the unconscious and the subconscious, and the transfer of this imagery to the canvas. Needless to say, this fascination with dreams and trance-like states as a source of inspiration led to the creation of some strange, bizarre and revolutionary art.

The principle theoretician of Surrealism, Andre Breton, defined the movement as: "Purely psychic automatism through which we undertake to express in words, writing or any other activity, the actual functioning of thought, thoughts dictated apart from any control by reason and any moral or aesthetic consideration. Surrealism rests upon belief in the higher reality or specific forms or associations, previously neglected in the omnipotence of dreams and in the disinterested play of thinking."

The movement was held together by the theories behind it, however the stylizations and approaches differed greatly. Painters such as Salvador Dali and Rene Magritte painted in exacting and detailed manner, others such as Joan Miro and Max Ernst worked in a much more spontaneous and fluid way. These differing approaches did not hurt the popularity of the movement as a whole, as Surrealism achieved the most widespread and controversial success of any aesthetic movement between World War I and World War II.

Did You Know?

Did you know that the quintessential Surrealist painter, Salvador Dali, was actually expelled from the Surrealist group in 1939? Even with all of the fame and publicity that Dali brought the group, they simply felt his odd political interests (his support of General Franco) and his fascination with Adolf Hitler were just too irrational for this irrational movement.

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