What is the significance of Surrealism Art?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

I would argue that the significance of surrealism art is to provoke questioning of what is accepted as standard reality.  Many of the Surrealists were convinced that the embrace of conformity and the standard, traditionally bourgeois approach to consciousness helped to facilitate World War I.  They have a point to make in this idea that when individuals do not expand boundaries and re-conceptualize what is into what can be, there is a tendency to be led astray by virtue of acquiescence into conformity.  For Surrealist Art, this becomes its significance in that it questions existing forms, initiating a dialogue where conformity is not as important and uniqueness, dissent, and a sense of the unsettled.  The Surrealist artist believed that one's art must reflect the Surrealist philosophical mode of thought.  Consider Andre Breton's definition of what Surrealism means to him:

Surrealism, n. Pure psychic automatism, by which one proposes to express, either verbally, in writing, or by any other manner, the real functioning of thought. Dictation of thought in the absence of all control exercised by reason, outside of all aesthetic and moral preoccupation.

The desire to escape this web of reason is where Surrealism is most significant.  Through its art, it seeks to trigger one's imagination and move beyond what is accepted.  It is through this affirmation of freedom in all of its forms and embrace of the reality that is not standard where the art of Surrealism creates its biggest and most profound impact.  The works of Salvador Dali, for example, do little to resolve discussions.  They initiate them, continue them, and reveal that the power of art and intellectual thought is to generate more questions in a dynamic of dialectics than to arbitrarily seek to answer them.  This embrace of the uniqueness of the journey within the human consciousness is where Surrealist Art is most compelling.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team