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5 Things You Didn’t Know about Surrealism

Miami— August 7, 2023 — Everyone knows what ‘surreal’ means – it’s become an everyday adjective that signifies the not-quite believable, the odd, weird, unnatural, supernatural, inexplicable. But these don’t define Surrealism, one of the most complex and far-reaching creative movements of the last hundred years.  Surrealism is a literary, philosophical, and artistic movement that explores the workings of the mind, championing the irrational, the poetic, and the revolutionary. Through their art, Surrealists wanted to channel the unconscious as a means to unlock the power of the imagination.

This month, we invite you to discover five interesting facts about this key art movement that continues to influence artists and fascinate audiences – from its beginnings in Paris in 1924 to today.


Surrealism, a dynamic and enchanting art movement, transcended national boundaries and evolved into a mesmerizing transnational phenomenon. Inspired by passionate individuals and groups from various corners of the world, Surrealism found homes in diverse places like Buenos Aires, Cairo, Lisbon, Mexico City, Prague, Seoul, and Tokyo. Its impact stretched across different points in history, from the 1920s to the 1970s, leaving an indelible mark on the global artistic landscape. 


At its core, Surrealism thrived in a supportive community of like-minded artists and writers. United by common ideals, they collaborated on collective artworks, published manifestos, and fostered creative friendships. Regardless of their diverse geographical origins, manifestos served as powerful tools for making collective statements and reinforcing the movement’s shared political and moral beliefs.  United by a shared passion for unlocking the power of imagination through the unconscious, Surrealists formed a vibrant international community, enriching the world with their boundless creativity and thought-provoking visions.


Embracing a revolutionary spirit, Surrealism emerged in 1924 Paris as a transformative force. While its impact is evident in iconic works by artists like Salvador Dalí and René Magritte, its significance extended far beyond art. Surrealism became a potent instrument in political, social, and personal liberation, fueling movements against colonialism, racism, authoritarianism, and war. It served as an ally in various protests, amplifying voices demanding freedom and justice.


Surrealism, beyond its captivating artworks, encompassed a rich tapestry of creative expressions. While the mesmerizing imagery remains its hallmark, the movement extended its reach to various visual arts, such as exhibitions and journals filled with poetic and often humorous prose. A pivotal influence on Surrealist thought was Sigmund Freud’s groundbreaking work, “The Interpretation of Dreams,” which resonated deeply with many artists. Freud’s validation of dreams and the unconscious as integral aspects of human emotions and desires laid the theoretical foundation for much of Surrealism’s thought-provoking and complex exploration of themes, including sexuality and violence. This multifaceted approach united artists, fostering the exchange of ideas and shaping Surrealism into a profound artistic and intellectual movement.


The turbulent events of the 1930s in Europe, marked by the rise of fascism and the horrors of war, led Surrealism to seek refuge in the United States and Latin America. The artistic cross-pollination flourished during and after the war, breathing new life into Surrealism. In this mesmerizing artistic tapestry, visionary artists like Remedios Varo, Spanish-Mexican, painted worlds where reality intertwined with imagination, while Chilean painter Roberto Matta crafted dynamic and labyrinthine compositions. Cuban artist Wifredo Lam’s works reflected Afro-Cuban influences, celebrating cultural identity and mythology. Mexican painter Frida Kahlo, through intimate self-portraits, delved into surreal realms of pain and passion, becoming an iconic figure in both Surrealism and Latin American art. Alongside talented Surrealists such as Argentine painter Leonor Fini and Brazilian artist Tarsila do Amaral, these Latin American luminaries drew inspiration from their heritage and experiences, adding a rich tapestry of emotions and cultural references to Surrealism’s global legacy.

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Photo: The Persistence of Memory, 1931 by Salvador Dalí. Image courtesy Museum of Modern Art, New York.