View Poll Results: What do you make of Surrealism?

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Thread: Surrealism.

  1. #1
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    Surrealism.

    The Philadelphia Academy of the Fine Arts is having a David Lynch exhibit in September, and with it, a chance to see some Lynch movies on the big screen. What do you make of Surrealism? I read more about the creative processes involved with the movement, and I was struck by how I could find echoes of it in artists I like who work in other mediums. David Lynch has described using meditation to come up with ideas, and Bob Dylan has been known to just pick combinations of words that he finds appealing.

    I fail to see what's less artistic or creative about using those sorts of "automatic" techniques vs. say, using a model or a pre-existing scene as a basis for a work. Some Pop Artists have used a projector to form outlines, and then painted that. And there's Hyperrealism today, which uses digital photographs as a reference for painting. Why is that more creative than creating something out of patterns in doodles and woodgrain, or the images of dreams and meditation?

    Sometimes I think surrealism is a perfect balance, between the mundaneness of more realistic or representational stuff, and the obtuseness of more abstract stuff (like Abstract Expressionism).

  2. #2
    chaotic neutral shitpost jigglypuff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slab_Bulkhead View Post
    The Philadelphia Academy of the Fine Arts is having a David Lynch exhibit in September, and with it, a chance to see some Lynch movies on the big screen. What do you make of Surrealism? I read more about the creative processes involved with the movement, and I was struck by how I could find echoes of it in artists I like who work in other mediums. David Lynch has described using meditation to come up with ideas, and Bob Dylan has been known to just pick combinations of words that he finds appealing.

    I fail to see what's less artistic or creative about using those sorts of "automatic" techniques vs. say, using a model or a pre-existing scene as a basis for a work. Some Pop Artists have used a projector to form outlines, and then painted that. And there's Hyperrealism today, which uses digital photographs as a reference for painting. Why is that more creative than creating something out of patterns in doodles and woodgrain, or the images of dreams and meditation?

    Sometimes I think surrealism is a perfect balance, between the mundaneness of more realistic or representational stuff, and the obtuseness of more abstract stuff (like Abstract Expressionism).
    there are all kinds of tricks and cheats that artists use and they're merely different creative processes. i tend to disagree with people who attempt to rank artistic techniques by "creativity". maybe these people are just uncomfortable with the reality that art production isn't magic. there's something to be said for being creative with the use of tools, and there is technique and craft to every art form and style.

    everybody has their own personal taste, but when it comes to ranking "objectively" the artistic/creative merit of things, i don't think that's something most artists care about.

    surrealism to me represents expression that is open-ended and fueled by subconscious, subjective associations. the more comfortable one is with letting go of linear logic and the temptation to find certain answers, the more hard-hitting the experience can be.

    that exhibit sounds like something i'd really like to go to if i was based anywhere near there.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Tetris Champion notdavidlynch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slab_Bulkhead View Post
    I fail to see what's less artistic or creative about using those sorts of "automatic" techniques vs. say, using a model or a pre-existing scene as a basis for a work. Some Pop Artists have used a projector to form outlines, and then painted that. And there's Hyperrealism today, which uses digital photographs as a reference for painting. Why is that more creative than creating something out of patterns in doodles and woodgrain, or the images of dreams and meditation?
    The only kind of people I've seen express this kind of view are teenagers on 4chan who're obsessed with the idea of becoming character artists.

    Neither is interesting to the contemporary fine art world unless done in a way that hasn't been done before.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tele View Post
    there are all kinds of tricks and cheats that artists use and they're merely different creative processes. i tend to disagree with people who attempt to rank artistic techniques by "creativity". maybe these people are just uncomfortable with the reality that art production isn't magic.
    The great artists of the Renaissance used technical tricks like lens systems that might be considered cheating by the purists.


    surrealism to me represents expression that is open-ended and fueled by subconscious, subjective associations. the more comfortable one is with letting go of linear logic and the temptation to find certain answers, the more hard-hitting the experience can be.
    It's appealing to me because it never gets old. I interpret the hell out of it, then come back to it in a year or so, and arrive at an entirely new interpretation. It's inexhaustible, and it exercises the imagination, which one never gets to use enough.

    Quote Originally Posted by notdavidlynch View Post
    The only kind of people I've seen express this kind of view are teenagers on 4chan who're obsessed with the idea of becoming character artists.
    I'm pretty skeptical that those are the only people that think that. And character artists are pretty different than surrealism, although I suppose, if it was an original character, there could be some overlap.

    Neither is interesting to the contemporary fine art world unless done in a way that hasn't been done before.
    This begs the question of what the contemporary fine art world finds interesting, then. What do they find interesting? I'm not sure why I should care, unless someone can show me why it it should be more meaningful than the latest spring fashion. I don't think something is meaningful in and of itself because it's a trend. 10 years from now everyone will be distancing themselves from the trends they are so slavishly following now, I suspect....like with anything else.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Limes's Avatar
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    I approve of surrealism and surreal comedy is my second favorite type, after roasts. ("Dennis Leary looks like Willem Dafoe with AIDS" holy shit! lol)

    I grew up on a diet of Reeves and Mortimer, who provide plenty of the stuff, so combine a dash of surrealism with a roast and you get items like "Jack, with your face like a..."

    As for surreal classical art, GREAT JOERRRRB!

  6. #6
    Hasta Siempre Madrigal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by notdavidlynch View Post
    The only kind of people I've seen express this kind of view are teenagers on 4chan who're obsessed with the idea of becoming character artists.

    Neither is interesting to the contemporary fine art world unless done in a way that hasn't been done before.
    Good luck with that. Contemporary fine art doesn't do anything in a way that hasn't been done before. The artistic vanguards of the turn of the Century prior to and after WW1 were the peak expressions of any type of artistic trends you might see today. They have never been surpassed - they have only been reproduced (with less genius) ever since. The only thing that has added novelty to these trends is technology, but even then, I believe these innovations are merely formal and have not actually come up with new ideological proposals. The age of artistic manifestos is over - they only ever came back in a less revolutionary form during the 60s and 70s, but they were still essentially replicating the more audacious vangaurds of the turn of the century.

    That said, surrealism is definitely my all-time favorite vanguard. Influenced by the revolution of Freudian psychoanalitical theory which postulated that we are not even the masters of our own minds (the third great historical blow to man's ego, the first two courtesy of Galileo and Darwin), and in tune with an era of world revolution, they attempted to release and liberate that which we surpress deep within ourselves, our subconscious. It isn't surprising that an important number of surrealists became "fellow travellers" of revolutionary Bolchevism. As an artistic proposal, I prefer it much more to its predecessor, Dadaism, which merely aimed to impugn the establishment, that is, as a purely negative statement with a destructive "anti" spirit, but didn't have the sophistication to offer something positive.

    Some people like to associate Dada with anarchy and Surrealism with socialism but I think that's silly (not to mention people like Dali who went fascist, so the theory doesn't even hold on simple political grounds). I would say it borders on Stalinist artistic "theory" except that stalinism was all about realism (unreal as it actually was), so that would be wrong. Marxists - stalinist or not - just have this little obsession with classifying the revolutionaryness of any artistic trend, depending upon parameters derived from the only thing they can understand, which is politics. And that leads to disaster. There is always the question, "What does the artist politically propose?" Which I think is the wrong question and really just makes me facepalm by now. It is not the task of artists to propose political or social solutions, IMO. I mean, I do get it - there is a loose analogy that can be made between the deliberate and systematic liberation of socially suppressed impulses and desires, with the breakdown and subversion of an entire social order during revolution. There is something attractive to socialists about the idea that here is a place where you are unrestrained that can be tapped, brought to the surface and analyzed. I like that too. But it isn't the business of an artist to suit a political program. Artists and politicians have different methods and speak different languages.

    I do appreciate anything with an oniric quality in art, especially movies, and I guess I appreciate that in Davd Lynch. I don't really like him on a comprehensive level though. Some movie scenes and instances speak to me, but on the whole I find him a little unimpressive. Linklater's A Scanner Darkly and Waking Life are probably good contemporary examples of the use of surrealism to produce something I'd consider mind-blowing.
    Last edited by Madrigal; 09-01-2014 at 03:08 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by Hephaestus View Post
    Heh. We've been here years now.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Tetris Champion notdavidlynch's Avatar
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    I hated A Scanner Darkly and Waking Life.

    And, yes, technology makes it easy to add formal novelty to work. I just unfollowed an LA based artist on Instagram once I realized what they were doing in the bulk of their work and how completely uninteresting and shallow the process is. A pretty end result is not enough. The process itself needs to be powerful and suggestive if I'm to 'follow' you, i.e. make you an artists artist.

    However, the reason you think that the peak of the artistic vanguard was the turn off the 20th century is likely because it's a conveniently packaged bit of history that's at least 100 years old - old enough for time to filter out the crap, young enough to still be politically and ideologically relevant.

    Also is the very idea that there's a single or primary vanguard. There are so many more people in the world today, some of whom - especially those in a position to be educated and make stuff - are so much more connected than they ever were before. In a way this could lead to an overarching, vanilla ideological homogeneity (think Colbert report, reddit style liberalism fed by media sensationalism), but it also has a tendency to splinter and fragment.

    Add to this that keeping up and engaging with contemporary work is in effect serving as a device for the historical filtration process, i.e. subjecting yourself to a whole lot of stupidity, and you can see why I believe that making any kind of generalized, absolute statement beyond the obvious about art in 2014 vs. 1914 is completely preposterous.

    TBH one of the few overarching, vanilla trends is a focus on identity politics. There's also the 'remix'.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by notdavidlynch View Post
    I hated A Scanner Darkly and Waking Life
    I don't know what you said after this.
    Quote Originally Posted by Hephaestus View Post
    Heh. We've been here years now.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Tetris Champion notdavidlynch's Avatar
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    If your mind was blown by Waking Life then I feel sorry for you. ASD was better but still whatever bro.

  10. #10
    chaotic neutral shitpost jigglypuff's Avatar
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    "fine art" VS everything else/"low brow"/ whatever-the-shit is mostly an academic distinction. it pretty much hits you once you're out of school and have to try to find your way in society again, unless you come from immense social privilege. those with the capital and power get to determine what's fine art and they give certain artists funding but that doesn't say much about how innovative something is. i guess i don't personally give a shit about what's considered Fine Art that's meant for the college-educated middle class usually white person to consume. capital A Artists and the social elite aren't the only ones who have valid tastes. look beyond the galleries and big name publishing and advertising, etc. and you'll see so much creativity and artistry in the most unexpected places (unless you've been brainwashed).

    the identity politics is what these powerful people wanna see from artists and other creators who come from marginalized backgrounds and are underrepresented in media and creative fields, imo. often it's a matter of marketing, how certain art is being promoted, how its value and validity is being framed. it's not bad art, but i get the sense that artists do play up their ethnic-ness and they are granted funding and published if they come from certain backgrounds of interest in the current social and political landscape. as that access and opportunity is granted by the social and corporate elite it's still not going to be a forever sort of access and opportunity. at the same time, there's immense pressure to whitewash one's art and identity especially if one is "educated" and seeks to make a name or living, and that isn't fair. the cynicism doesn't does flow in just one direction. artists are probably some of the most conscious of these sorts of image plays.
    Last edited by jigglypuff; 09-01-2014 at 06:46 PM.

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