Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 271
Manifesto in Surrealism is the foundational text of the surrealist movement, and it was written in 1924 by Andre Breton. Breton was the leader of the surrealist movement, which was, in essence, a rejection of “rational thinking." Breton viewed rational thinking as a product of society and the cause of World War I. Surrealism, therefore, was more than an style of art, it was a sociopolitical movement with clear goals. According to Breton, the primary goal of the surrealists was to overthrow the oppressive rules inflicted on artists by society and rely on subconscious thoughts to dictate artistic content. In his manifesto, Breton defines surrealism as
psychic automatism in its pure state, by which one proposes to express, verbally, by means of the written word, or any other manner, the actual functioning of thought. Dictated by the thought, in the absence of any control exercised by reason, exempt from any aesthetic or moral concern.
First and foremost, Manifesto in Surrealism explores the question of reality, which according to Breton, emerges from spontaneous thought. Therefore, he relies heavily on the ideas of Freud and his interpretation of dreams to analyze the function of art in society. Breton believes the dream state to be untainted by society and therefore true to reality. He claims that dreams should therefore be the foundation for art, as the thoughts that emerge from our subconscious mind are the products of pure imagination and free from artificial ideals. To Breton, artists should be as unconcerned with aesthetics as they are with rational thought, an idea that characterized the Dadaist movement that preceded surrealism and that shares its theoretical base.