Surrealist Manifesto

During my recent trip to London, I finally came to understand what I enjoy about art. As I mentioned in a previous article, art was not always a part of my life. Heck, I wouldn’t say it’s a large part right now either, despite a newfound appreciation.

Although I won’t be mingling with socialites, sipping wine and nibbling on cheese at the next Walker fundraiser, I do lose myself in surrealist art in a way usually reserved for fire. Just as I could stare into a campfire for hours at a time, I could stand in front of a Salvador Dali or Yves Tanguy all day.

While stroking my beard thoughtfully. My beard is the source of all my intellectual power. Barely kidding.

While stroking my beard thoughtfully. My beard is the source of all my intellectual power. Barely kidding.

Dali and Tanguy are easily my favorite artists. Until London, I never understood why I loved these two and their fellow surrealists while I remained indifferent to nearly all others. Finally, as I stood stroking my beard in front of Tanguy’s Azure Day at the Tate Modern, I understood.

I love surrealism’s contrast. The known and the unknown. The beauty and the brutality. The logical and the impossible, Echoes of both the familiar and the deformed. It simultaneously could be, shouldn’t be, and is. It spurs me to keep looking within each work for an understanding that will never come.

I love the sense of possibility that surrealism’s provides. While the painting ends at its margins, the ideas go on forever. The frame encloses the work, but the mind cannot help but expand beyond its original borders.

Ultimately, this is why I love surrealist art.

Realism shows me one thing. It is what it is. The style and the method and the perspective changes, but mine does not.

Abstract art shows me nothing. It does, of course, try to express something, but I’m not going to do all the work for the artist. Meet me halfway. If your triangular box with a picture of Dave Foley at the center represents the emptiness of love, at least give me a hint.

Surrealism shows me anything. There’s enough there to draw upon what I know, but not enough for me to actually know. That contrast, and the possibility it creates, blows my mind every single time.

Now, if you need me, I’ll be over here with a Mich Golden, gnawing on a hunk of sharp cheddar.

Mmmmmm… sophistication.

/Gratuitous Simpsons Sound Effect

Some of my favorites after the jump.

Yves Tanguy - The Invisibles

Yves Tanguy – The Invisibles

Salvador Dali - Swans Reflecting Elephants

Salvador Dali – Swans Reflecting Elephants

Yves Tanguy - Indefinite Divisibility

Yves Tanguy – Indefinite Divisibility

Salvador Dali - Three Sphinxes of Bikini

Salvador Dali – Three Sphinxes of Bikini

Yves Tanguy - Azure Day

Yves Tanguy – Azure Day

Salvador Dali - Portrait of Juan de Pareja

Salvador Dali – Portrait of Juan de Pareja

Salvador Dali - Metamorphosis of Narcissus

Salvador Dali – Metamorphosis of Narcissus

9 thoughts on “Surrealist Manifesto

  1. Nice post dood. I don’t know much about art either, but I know that I love the work of Rene Magritte. I think you’d like it too. I don’t think he’s quite as busy as Dali or Tanguy. Also he doesn’t seem to manipulate objects as much as they do. Instead, he just tweaks reality a little bit with odd juxtapositions or out of place objects. You’ve most likely seen “The Son of Man,” but you should also check out “Time Transfixed” and “The Treachery of Images.” Or just start with everything linked on the right side of his wikipedia page ( and go from there. Also, if you’ve never seen Philippe Halsman’s photographic work with Dali (or if you’ve never heard of Halsman before), you should definitely look him up.

    • Wow, dood. Good recommendations.

      Magritte’s theme is a really cool one and definitely falls under the banner of “thought-provoking. Speaking of which, I don’t think I’ve ever seen “surrealist photography” before, but a lot of Halsman’s stuff definitely fits that bill.

      I’ll definitely be looking out for their stuff in the future.

  2. Additionally, there’s a line from Rilke’s first Duino Elegy that always pops into my head when I look at Surrealism:

    “For beauty is nothing but the beginning of terror, which we are still just able to endure,
    and we are so awed because it serenely disdains to annihilate us.”

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