Tag Archives | Surrealism

The Oddly Reassuring Quality of Surrealistic Art

Giorgio de Chirico's 'The Red Tower,' 1913. (Photo: Public Domain)

Giorgio de Chirico’s ‘The Red Tower,’ 1913. (Photo: Public Domain)

Tom Jacobs writes at Pacific Standard:

A person’s taste in art is generally thought to be unchanging. A lover of Renaissance frescoes, for instance, isn’t likely to suddenly become entranced by the abstract paintings of Jackson Pollock.

But recently published research suggests one specific, uncomfortable circumstance can inspire us to appreciate a wider range of work. It finds people are more likely to forge a positive emotional connection with surrealistic art if they have just been reminded of their own mortality.

It has long been argued that, in the face of existential threats, art can evoke a comforting aura of collective meaning and transcendence. That’s a fairly obvious dynamic with sacred works, but it can also be true of secular images that serve as poignant reminders of the beliefs that give one’s life meaning.

Somewhat counter-intuitively, a research team led by psychologist Verena Graupmann of DePaul University reports surrealistic art can serve this same purpose.

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In Our Veins: A Surreal Meditation on the Natural World

Amy Guidry‘s Artist Statement:

The premise of my series “In Our Veins” is to explore the connections between all life forms and the cycle of life. Through a psychological, and sometimes visceral, approach, this series investigates our relationships to each other and to the natural world, as well as our role in the life cycle. Concepts such as life and death, survival and exploitation, and the interdependence and destruction of living and nonliving organisms are illustrated throughout. Using imagery derived from dreams and free association, “In Our Veins” demonstrates these ideas in a surreal, psychologically-charged narrative.

You can follow Amy on Facebook and sign up for her newsletter here.

The Pack - Acrylic on canvas, 20"w x 10"h

The Pack – Acrylic on canvas, 20″w x 10″h

The Pack - Acrylic on canvas, 20″w x 10″h

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5am Film Series: Un Chien Andalou

Un Chien Andalou is the first film that really got me interested in surrealist cinema. While not the first surrealist film (that goes to The Seashell and the Clergyman by Germaine Dulac), it is particularly notable due to Salvador Dali’s involvement.

The film, directed by Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dali, has minimal plot in which the characters exist in a dreamlike world. It was Buñuel’s directorial debut.

If you’d like to explore surrealism in cinema further, Maya Deren’s Meshes of the Afternoon is another favorite of mine.

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Jodorowsky 1.0

Jodo

Nashville, TN is experiencing a Alejandro Jodorowsky renaissance this month with the Belcourt Theatre’s screenings of some of the auteur’s most important works, leading up to the local premiere of his new film, Dance of Reality.

My fellow local film writers and I all respect the master’s outlandish visuals, his passion for the surreal and his esoteric spiritual explorations, but, of course, his movies aren’t for everyone. After last week’s screening of The Holy Mountain I kept thinking about the film — I’ve watched it many times and this most recent viewing was the second time I’d seen it on the big screen. I came away wondering if I’d seen any other films that paved the way for Jodorowsky, and while early surrealist cinema certainly deserves a nod, if you want to know where Jodo’s roots really dig in, you have to look to the stage, not the screen.

Here’s what the Mutantspace site has to say about Jodorowsky’s Melodrama Sacramental performance piece from 1965…

Alejandro Jodorowsky‘s ‘Melodrama Sacramentral’ was a happening presented by his group, The Panic Movement at the Paris Festival of Free Expression in 1965.Read the rest

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The Failed Smell Concert Of Sadakichi Hartmann

sadakichiMovies and music are filled with sight and sound, but when will humanity master the expressive and exploratory power of the other senses? The Believer on an ill-fated pre-Surrealist attempt to transport a theater full of people to Japan via a series of perfumes projected by fan:

In the fall of 1902, when he was around thirty-five years old, the papers announced that Mr. Sadakichi Hartmann, the eccentric art critic, would present a short performance entitled “A Trip to Japan in Sixteen Minutes.” The piece was described as a “melody in odors.”

The turn of the twentieth century saw a flurry of sense experimentation. The color organ was patented in 1895, an instrument with colored panels that lit up and changed in time to music. A few years later, one of the first electric organs, the Telharmonium, would have its debut in a specially built concert hall in New York.

The perfume concert was the featured event on a bill of a casual Sunday pop, held at the enormous entertainment complex known as the New York Theatre.

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Bauhaus Surrealist Prisons Of The Spanish Civil War

prisonNot that I condone mental torture, but there is something appealing about anarchists using modern art as a weapon against the fascist war machine. From the Guardian archives:

A Spanish art historian has uncovered what was alleged to be the first use of modern art as a deliberate form of torture — mind-bending prison cells were built by anarchist artists 65 years ago during the country’s bloody civil war.

Bauhaus artists, as well as the surrealist Luis Bunuel and his friend Salvador Dali, were said to be the inspiration behind a series of secret cells built in Barcelona and elsewhere.

Most were the work of an enthusiastic French anarchist, Alphonse Laurencic, who invented a form of “psychotechnic” torture, according to the research of the historian Jose Milicua.

Mr Milicua’s information came from a written account of Laurencic’s trial before a Francoist military tribunal. Laurencic, a painter, created his so-called “coloured cells” as a contribution to the fight against General Franco’s rightwing rebel forces.

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The Explosive Pop Art Cinema Of Pramod Pati

Avant-garde filmmaker Pramod Pati created luscious, poetic, beautifully-scored short films on behalf of the Indian government (sometimes with social-educational purposes such as promoting family planning). Highlights include Abid, below, and 1968's symbolism-rich Explorer. The Seventh Art provides some background:
Pramod Pati, who died an untimely death at the age of 42, worked for the Films Division of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting in India, which commissioned feature-length and short documentaries as well as short animation films for the purposes of cultural archiving and nationwide information dissemination. The documentaries generally consisted of profiles of artistes practicing traditional forms, educational films for adults, and simple moral tales and basic literacy courses for children. Although there was an obvious restriction on the type of subjects filmmakers can choose, the Films Division, like the Kanun in Iran, was free from commercial concerns and thus presented a higher scope for formal experimentation for directors.
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