Surrealism Drawings

History of Surrealism Drawings

Surrealism drawings did not immediately emerge with Surrealism itself around 1924. Andre Breton, along with poets Paul Éluard, Louis Aragon, and Philippe Soupault, established the movement in Paris as an intellectual and literary approach to escape rationality in a war-torn world. They were heavily influenced by the theories of Sigmund Freud and used a variety of automatic processes to tap into subconscious thoughts through writing and eventually drawing, painting, and sculpture. Surrealist drawings were created using techniques, like frottage and automatic drawing, culled from Freudian free association and early Dada experiments with automatism and found objects. Artists aimed to lose conscious control during the drawing process, instead looking for a revealed meaning in the finished product. Artists today are still interested in drawing with automatic methods or conveying images of dreams and fantasy in the Surrealist vein.

Surrealism Drawings Techniques

Traditional techniques used to produce surrealism drawings include automatic drawing, exquisite corpses, and frottage. To produce automatic drawings, artists allowed their hands to move randomly across the work’s surface, losing control of the drawing utensil and the composition itself. These artists were interested in finding form and meaning after the drawing was completed. The exquisite corpse or exquisite cadaver method resulted from artist collaborations in which each artist drew one part of a body on a piece of paper. The paper was then folded to conceal each person’s image before it was passed to the next artist, resulting in a final mismatched work. In frottage, artists make a rubbing of an object or textured surface using drawing utensils. Contemporary interest in these Surrealist techniques has also led to the invention of computer programs that allow artists to replace paper and pen with a monitor and mouse.

Artists Known For Surrealism Drawings

André Masson’s “Automatic Drawing” (1924) is perhaps one of the most iconic examples of Surrealist automatic drawings. The work’s organic, curving lines appear as just a webbed mass of ink, but Masson found images of fragmented objects within it after its completion. Max Ernst is well-known for his shaded Surrealism drawings created with the frottage technique. He rubbed surfaces ranging from floorboards to plants to create works like “Forest and Sun” (1931). Francis Picabia’s “Olga” (1930) is just one of many surrealism drawings of eyes; eyes were a common motif in Surrealist art because they symbolized perception and alluded to the female anatomy. Artists known for creating exquisite corpses include Marcel Duchamp, Yves Tanguy, Benjamin Peret, and Jacques Prevert. Other famous artists who practiced automatic drawing include Andre Breton, Jean Arp, Joan Miro, and Salvador Dali. Jim Shaw, Alexandra Grant, Stas Orlovski, and Mark Licari put a contemporary spin on older Surrealist drawing methods.