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ART206 Fantasy

Introduction to Fantasy Art, Dada and Surrealism

Cultural Influences after Post Impressionism. 1910-1945

  • Environmental and Mental pollution
  • 1920’s Lenin declares Modern Art unsuitable “dangerous to society”
  • Social democracy vs. Machiavellian / Fascism / Absolutism
  • Western Imperialism vs. Indigenous value systems.
  • Exploitation of worker/warrior for Nationalism.
  • 1933 Hitler Nazi laws legitimize genocide.
  • 1936- Stalin’s reign of terror.
  • 1936-1939 Spanish Civil War – A human disaster: a million dead.
  • 1939-1945 World War II – civilians on the front line, 50 million deaths in 6 years, then Hiroshima.

Thus social agitation, which produces anarchism and violent revolution. Because the ideals of the Enlightenment and the Romantic quest of individual freedoms, a devotion to the welfare of being human in a passive realm of ideas and beliefs is not yet a strong force socially.

Fantasy Art 1910 – 1920’S

WWI and II, with citizens on the front lines. 
Destruction of world beliefs by Darwin, Marx, Einstein, Freud, Jung, Ghandi, Chardin,

Fantasy art establishes idea that the imagination, the “inner eye” is more important than rational, intellectual mind.  Recognition of imagination as a real force in determining reality. Embracing the imagination as a legitimate source of imagery, to be integrated into reality.

Will lead, through Dada and Surrealism to an integration between outer and inner conscious states, analogical vs. binary mind.

K. Jung establishes the archetypes.

How can such archetypes have meaning to the different observes.

  • Archetypes are the important concerns and desires shared buy all people across historical time and cultural differences.
  • DNA like the inner subconscious is as depository of all experience from the past.
  • Metaphor of heart, as the center shared by all things.

I do not understand them at all. They are images which obsess me, paintings are my reason of existence, my life, and that’s all”.

Giorgio de Chirico  1888-1978

He often referred to Nietzche’s philosophy, “underneath this reality in which we live and have our being, another and altogether different reality lies concealed.”

Dada and Surrealism

Characteristics of the Modernist outlook:
History or civilization in the Modernist point of view had become a dead end.

Traditional values and morals, along with any basis for hope in the future, were shattered by the apocalyptic struggle of World Was I, II.

It could no longer be taken for granted that Western civilization would survive, even in light of the enlightenment.

Freud’s discovery of the unconscious and his conclusion that it, rather than reason, is the ultimate master of human behavior had a profound influence in the artists’ rejection of the primacy of reason.

One expression of this view is the attempt of Modernist poets and artists to bypass the rational processes and get in touch with the unconscious though automatic writing and drawing.

Dada 1916 – 1922

With mechanical killing and destruction of WWI belief in reason is shattered.
“A ghastly and senseless war had cheated us out of five years of our lives. We had seen all that had been held up to us as good, beautiful and true topple into an abyss of ridicule and shame”.

A number of artists in Paris launch a protest movement and with random choice from telephone books, the word Dada (hobbyhorse) is chosen.

Declared that, all established claims to values, moral or aesthetic had been rendered meaningless, by the catastrophe of war. They support non-sense and anti-art. Only process acknowledged was chance.  Art is not dependent on established rules, manual dexterity or technology.

The movement is not completely negative, as in its irrationality they found liberation from traditional themes and limitations of Renaissance perspective and traditional processes.

With new developments in science, philosophy and art, a new path is created into uncharted relationships of form and meaning, realism to surrealism, conscious fused to subconscious realms.

In 1915 a number of young intellectuals including Hans Arp, seek refuge in Zurich. They establish the Cabaret Voltaire, from the French skeptic of 1700’s. Is a center for protest against the aristocratic fabric of European society, which would allow and condone war.

They presented a lecture by 38 people at the same time, in several languages and insensible syllables chosen for sound relationships, attacking all cultural standards and traditional art. Public reaction is violent, throwing chairs.

Duchamp draws a mustache on Mona Lisa and places a toy monkey in a frame titled “Cézzanne"

Dada stimulates a remarkable flourish in art manifesting itself in spontaneous expressions of chance occurrences.  Dada becomes international with a show at Gallery 291 in New York in 1917.

“For us Dada was first of all a mental attitude, our aim was total subversion of the existing order”

“ Was not meant to please, but to make people scream”, Max Ernst
By 1920’s artist groups became a force of opposition, a community of revolutionary’s, deliberately   placing themselves outside of mainstream society.

Intro to Surrealism

Child- Medieval, dependence on higher authority, church and state.

Adolescence- relies on groups gangs, nations, with tribal warfare. Nationalism. 18th to 19th C.

Inflated ego-  industrial, corporate economy, power brokers. Only strong will survive at expense of others.  Advancements in thinking and technology is used for own survival. 19th to 20th C.

Maturity- Relative perspective, social anarchy and personal sovereignty, self-determination and individualization. Search for meaning, essences beyond appearances to find and live from one’s own center.

“Every live is the realization of the whole. All life is bound to individual carriers, yet every carrier is charged with a personal destiny and destination, and this makes sense of life” Jung.

            “All the signals we receive are to navigate waters of life” Freud

If not in tune with non physical, psyche intuitive self we lose the ability to follow our micro to macro destiny.

Surrealism 1920 - 30


“If realization of a unified simultaneous reality is the first step to post mechanical consciousness, the acknowledgement (faith) of an acausal (synchronicity) reality, and a surrender of ego to the unconscious, nonlinear multidimensional realms of experience is next.

Artistic manipulation of form and space without influence from “ the mysterious centers of thought, will be unrelated to the organic impulses of life itself.”

Old paradigm or idea of a fixed immutable reality is out dated. The 100 monkey principle. Synchronicity. Principle of Uncertainty.

surrealism recognizes the subconscious as a source for the imagination to access in knowing or determining one’s reality.

This is an alternative to the memory bank of tapes we normally listen to, in reacting to our ordinary world.

The intent of surrealism is to express from the inner realms without conscious or egotistic judgment, allowing free flow of new insight and solutions.

The process to provoke the imagination of the observer is juxtaposition of realist images, to by pass memory and tap the subconscious.
“ The locus of inspiration is the unconscious” 
“ To avoid the oppressive role of reason”
“The artist neither serves or rules, he transmits”. P Klee
“ Psychic liberation is the prerequisite to political freedom.”

 a “trigger which causes observer to invest meaning”.

Thus transcending memory to provide new understanding, illuminating one’s real inner needs and concerns.

Necessary in a rapidly changing shrinking global community headed for self-destruction.


From total liberation of color and shape by Kandinsky and Mondrian to liberation of the imagination by consciously accessing the depths of the subconscious.

When quantum physics and inner psychic realms are united, then we will acknowledge profound sources of information beyond rational linear time.

A power to imagine the future we want. A cultural openness to embrace inner realms rather than a victim of a concrete fixed reality.

Philosophically, S. Freud, who opened the door to the subconscious describes the Reality of Function. “ A free thinking individual without preconceptions or simply reproducing inherited patterns of thought, is an active creative center in the life process, an initiating being yet cooperative”,
Implies integration of mind and nature, conscious and unconscious, individual to a collective destiny and reality, which will confirm concept of ethics of Internal Integrity. When creation is grounded at one’s center.

Miro- “ to rethink everything, to open a door to a different future, free of hypocrisy”.

In 1924, Andre Breton defines surrealist process as pure psychic automatism to express the true process of thought, free from exercise of reason uncontrolled by conscious judgment.

Andre` Breton published “The Surrealist Manifesto” in 1924. Surrealism is seen as a means of reuniting conscious and unconscious realms of experience so completely that the world of dream and fantasy would be joined to the everyday rational world in “an absolute reality, a surreality”. 

Drawing heavily form Sigmund Freud, Breton saw the unconscious as the wellspring of the imagination. He defined genius in terms of accessibility to this normally untapped realm, which, he believed, could be attained by poets and painters alike.

These writings also invited the women into the movement, as the feminine creative principle or the muse.

The intent of surrealism is to transcend the limitations of ego. To liberate the power of the unconscious as the source of truth or knowledge that is superior to traditional images, that reflects outdated beliefs.
They suggest that in the mind exists a point where past and future and the unimagined co-exist. This is Point Omega where time is collapsed.

Through pure psychic automatism without control by reason.
Provoking a new relationship, between art and the observer that engages the unknown at deeper levels of inner self. Free from traditional expectations.

The Philosophy of surrealism works outside of binary mind and forces analogical thinking, to conceptual thinking from the unconscious.

The relationship of mind to nature or outer to inner consciousness is the crucial question of human existence.
“People sit on the crest of the evolutionary wave, with them occurs the passage from an unconscious to a conscious evolution.”

K. Jung who establishes concepts of archetypes, says “We have let the castles of our fathers built fall into pieces and now we try to break into oriental palaces our fathers never knew”

Breton: “We must evade the oppressive control of reason” through dreams, psychic automatism, automatic writing, free association.

“We do not realize the extent to which we have been taught how to see the world.”

 “ Artistic symbols negotiate insight not reference. Does not rest on convention, but motivates…

Surrealism will liberate the imagination, recognizing the abstract as the pool of infinite possibilities. It establishes connection to subconscious and fuse artist to inner realms.  Which then will meet individual needs with congruent truth.

Which is, the first purpose of the wisdom seeking, rather than monkey brain thinking. 

Satisfies the identity concerns of being human, avoiding stagnation or the vicious circle of repeating failures.

Surrealism integrates the viewer or public with the unconscious through the imagination.

You see what you need to see because of the juxtaposition of real images.

When conscious assess to inner realms (the metaphor of the heart or aspect of unconditional love of self and nature) then images, mythology, world paradigms, will  evolve to satisfy a congruent evolution of matter to spirit.

Surrealism, Importance Humanistically

Why a process of connection to the subconscious by liberating the imagination is so necessary.

A necessary force today because the alienation between mind and nature masculine and feminine since written history has destroyed the “ organic mythological process” that provides insight into primal universal concerns and evolution of the purpose and meaning of being or life.

A balance or integration between the dualism of masculine and feminine, inner and outer abilities is necessary to evolve consciously, with new imagery, supporting new belief systems unrestricted by rational binary limitations.

A fusion with inner subconscious, creating a conscious development of our future.

To make known the unknown is why we are here, by engaging the abstract, the pool of infinite possibilities.

Point Omega, where the future can be imagined, perhaps using the other 2/3 of our brain.

Surrealism - Aesthetic

Juxtaposition of realistic images, fuses artist and viewer with imagination and subconscious, through psychic automatism, that liberates the imagination. 


Tends to be formal to allow contemplation of themes.

Abstract juxtaposition provokes in sight by liberating the imagination.

Thus, meeting real needs, or concerns of the individual or community.


Surrealism demands gestating conceptual ideas, provoked by attaching meaning to the iconographic language.

Learning at the individual level comes by comparing analytically the individual interpretation to the cultural and archetypal or esoteric meaning of the symbolic language of surrealism.

Social: 1900-1945
Materialistic Victorian values in contrast to loss of hope in urban lower class. Still no entitlements for people. With population explosion in the poor classes.

Increased intellectual humanist movements, with woman consciousness and social awareness. 19th amendment. Women’s suffrage.

The beat or “the lost generation”, revolved around the  1920’s, jazz, representing freedom, excitement, and new possibilities.

Yet there is an intensifying racial inequity.
Stock crash, dust bowl, and great depression.
Full employment returned only with the event of WWII.

Philosophical: 1900-1945

1913 French futurists and England Vorticists – Saw the onset of the war as a “cleansing” that will purge the capitalist world of all its’ ills. Unfortunately, the old order stays on top. 

1914 – Guillaume Apollinaire, Artist- comments on destruction of war “Death is better than life”.

1916- Ezra Pound, American poet- complained that the war “gave no one the chance to kill the hundred fat, rich men working to start another war”.

1916 Paris Dada Movement emphasized the illogicality and the uncontrollability of existence. An extreme form of artistic protest against war and the societies that could generate war.
Dedicated to the subversion of the established order.

1940’s Sigmund Freud, reveling the subconscious origins of human action, uprooted the notion that humans are ultimately rational beings.

1930-40’s Existentialism- the reality of human freedom. And necessity of correct choice, by living in the moment.

Jung, Chardin, and Ghandi,
Passive Resistance


  • 1900- 1945   Electrical age to atomic, Instantaneous communication.
  • 1903 Einstein Theory of Relativity. 90% of universe is mental, with a will to become.


  • A time of intense questioning, or denial of the global psychic pain.
  • Mainstream religions lose affect on people.
  • Evangelical and fundamental revivalisms are the fastest growing religions. Atheism,   Agnosticism.
  • Eastern religions that surrender ego to the nature is discovered.
Models of Evolving Consciousness

 P. Teilhard Chardin

Evolution proceeds in direction of increasing complexity, –from a material physical to intellect and spiritual culminating in a human spirituality liberated, from physical primate limitations. With out denying our ancestral roots to the earth.  

The development of thought, self-awareness was as great a cosmic development as the formation of matter, the stuff of the world is mind. Planet is becoming more and more unified, contemporary, it reflects global tension. Demanding humanistic solutions.

1.Geosphere 105 elements
2.Biosphere- plant animal consciousness takes form, basic needs, and emotions of survival 
3.Noosphere- mind or thought energy, from individual to collective supra consciousness. Enveloping the planet, not now in harmony with natural rhythms. A dim memory through of being interrelated with the morphic field of earth’s origins.
4.The need for elimination of destructive thought to cooperative responses and action. People’s inherent character of curiosity and experimentation cause movement from simple to complex. More complex the envelope of psychic energy, the quicker the collapse of not able to change.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S.J. 1881 – 1955

Teilhard sees the human species as the cosmic thrust of evolution and is the key for understanding the universe. 

Insists that only by cultivation of our moral sense of obligation to life can we overcome our present fear about life, which at present only perpetuates negative dissidence.

For him the fundamental law of morality is to liberate unconscious energy that seeks to unify the world. This is the energy of human love, an impulse toward unity, an impulse of mind and heart.

Predicted the arrival of a global “internet”, described as the  “Noosphere”, as global network of thought. Which would ultimately weave into a sphere of collective thought, growing in complexity enveloping the globe.

The Noosphere is the part of the world reality that is created by man’s thought and culture. Distinguished the noosphere from the geosphere, a foundation of the  world, and from the biosphere, the living world. The noosphere is unique because of growing complexity.

In this progression towards an ever increasing complexity, of which the human beings is the highest grade, evolution is not linear but
proceeds by a series of quantitative then qualitative leaps. Thus need for elimination of destructive thought.

We all converge to the final goal, everything is directed towards Point Omega, humanity’s natural point of convergence with universal destiny.