Surrealism and Expressionism are two art movements with some similarities and differences. Surrealism developed out of the Dada movement in the early 1920s. It focused on using techniques such as automatic writing and decalcomania to create artworks that were based on the subconscious mind. Expressionism, on the other hand, emerged in Germany in 1905. It was partly a reaction to Naturalism, an artistic style that depicted reality in a realistic way. Expressionist artists sought to express their inner emotions and feelings through their artwork.
Both Surrealism and Expressionism were influenced by Psychoanalytic theory. Surrealist artists believed that the unconscious mind was the source of creativity. They used automatism, or spontaneous free association, to tap into their subconscious mind and create artworks that were often strange and Surreal.
Expressionist artists also believed that emotions and feelings were stored in the subconscious mind. However, they tended to depict these inner emotions and feelings in a more exaggerated way than Surrealist artists did.
Surrealist artists often used found objects in their artworks, whereas Expressionist artists tended to use more traditional art materials such as paint and clay. Surrealist artists also frequently employed chance operations, such as using decalcomania, to create their artworks. This was done in order to further tap into the unconscious mind and create unexpected results. Expressionist artists, on the other hand, generally strived to control their artmaking process as much as possible.
Surrealist artworks often have a dreamlike quality to them, whereas Expressionist artworks tend to be more intense and expressive. Surrealist artists sought to create artworks that would evoke the same type of emotions and feelings that one experiences in a dream. Expressionist artists, on the other hand, wanted their artworks to express their innermost emotions and feelings.
Surrealism in art history is defined by artists who created paintings that look like dreams. These dreamscapes are familiar objects, but they’ve been oddly changed or placed in ways one would not see ordinarily. Surrealist objects look realistic with light shadows and details, yet the way they’re arranged makes them appear beyond reality (Kleiner, 2000).
André Breton, who was a French writer, is credited with being the founder of Surrealism (Kleiner, F. , 2000). He wrote the Surrealist Manifesto in 1924, which was a Surrealist movement’s official document (Kleiner, F. , 2000). In the manifesto, he defined Surrealism as “Psychic automatism in its pure state, by which one proposes to express—verbally, by means of the written word, or in any other manner—the actual functioning of thought.
Dictated by thought in the absence of all control exercised by reason, exempt from any aesthetic or moral concern” (Breton, A. , 1924). In other words, Surrealism was a way to let the subconscious mind create art without any restrictions from the conscious mind (Kleiner, F. , 2000).
Expressionism is a period in art history when artists created paintings that showed their inner emotions and ideas rather than what they saw in reality (Kleiner, F. , 2000). They used bright colors, exaggerated shapes, and distorted forms to express themselves (Kleiner, F. , 2000).
Expressionists believed that art should be an expression of the artist’s feelings rather than an imitation of reality (Kleiner, F. , 2000). The German Expressionist movement started around 1905, which was before Surrealism (Kleiner, F. , 2000). However, Expressionism continued after Surrealism began, and the two styles overlapped for a few years (Kleiner, F. , 2000).
Comparison of Surrealism and Expressionism Surrealism and Expressionism were both periods in art history when artists expressed their inner thoughts and emotions through their paintings rather than painting what they saw in reality. Both styles used bright colors, exaggerated shapes, and distorted forms. However, there are also some differences between Surrealism and Expressionism.
Surrealist paintings often look like dreams or nightmares, while Expressionist paintings often look more angry or sad. Surrealist paintings usually have objects that are familiar but changed in some way, while Expressionist paintings often have completely imaginary objects. Surrealism started in the 1920’s in France, while Expressionism started in 1905 in Germany.
As I researched, I found that Surrealism was first birthed from Dada; however, it was less violent and more artistically inclined. Diehl (1986) describes how instead of being writers or poets, the French poet Andre Brenton is known as the “Pope of Surrealism.” He wrote the Surrealist Manifesto to describe his desire to fuse both conscious and subconscious into what he called a new “absolute reality”–one where elements taken from fantasy combined with those in modern society created an even better version of our world today.
Surrealism is based on the belief that the Surrealist artist can tap into the unconscious mind and create art from the images found there” (Diehl, G. , 1986). In order to do this, Surrealists used a variety of techniques such as: automatic drawing and writing, frottage (rubbing), decalcomania (transferring images by pressing them onto another surface), collage, and montage.
Expressionism was an international movement that began in Europe at the start of the 20th century. It flourished in Germany during the first half of the 1920s before spreading to other countries. Expressionist artists sought to express emotional experience, rather than physical reality, through bold distortions of color, line, and form. The Expressionist movement was short-lived, lasting only a few years from approximately 1905 to 1920. However, its influence can still be seen in the art of today.
Both Surrealism and Expressionism were influenced by earlier art movements, including Post-Impressionism, Fauvism, and Cubism. Surrealists also drew inspiration from Sigmund Freud’s theories about the unconscious mind. Expressionists were influenced by the emotionally charged paintings of Vincent van Gogh and Edvard Munch.
While Surrealism and Expressionism both sought to express emotions and inner experience, they did so in different ways. Surrealists used techniques such as automatic drawing and frottage to tap into the unconscious mind and create art from the images found there. Expressionists, on the other hand, used bold distortions of color, line, and form to express emotional experience. Surrealist art is often characterized by its dreamlike quality, while Expressionist art is often angular and jarring.
Both Surrealism and Expressionism were short-lived movements that had a lasting impact on the art world. Surrealism paved the way for other important movements such as Abstract Expressionism, while Expressionism laid the foundation for later movements such as Art Nouveau. Surrealism and Expressionism continue to influence artists today.
Surrealism is best described as “uncontrolled creativity” (Balakian, A., 1986). In other words, the general idea of Surrealism is nonconformity. This nonconformity was not as extreme as that of Dada since surrealism was still considered to be art. Brenton said that “pure psychic automatism” was the most important principle of Surrealism.
Surrealists believed that the unconscious mind was more important than the conscious mind and they wanted to tap into that. Surrealism was a literary, artistic, and philosophical movement that originated in the early 1920s. Andre Breton was the founder of Surrealism and he wrote the Surrealist Manifesto in 1924. The main goal of Surrealism was to overthrow the “rational” values of society and to promote pure psychic automatism.
Expressionism is defined as “a modernist movement in art characterized by distortion and exaggeration for emotive or expressive effect” ( Expressionism , n.d.). In other words, Expressionism is about expressing emotions through art. This can be seen in the paintings of Wassily Kandinsky and Franz Marc. Expressionism was a response to Surrealism and it was also a literary, artistic, and philosophical movement. Expressionism began in the early 20th century and its peak was in the years between World War I and World War II.
There are some similarities between Surrealism and Expressionism but there are also many differences. Surrealism was more focused on the unconscious mind while Expressionism was more focused on emotions. Surrealists wanted to tap into the unconscious mind while Expressionists wanted to express their emotions through art. Surrealist paintings were often strange and bizarre while Expressionist paintings were often distorted and exaggerated.