Surrealism and Its Impact on Abstract Art

The use of color is paramount in abstraction, as it serves as a key element in conveying emotions and evoking a particular mood. Surrealism, a movement that emerged in the early 20th century, has had a significant impact on abstract art. Surrealist artists challenged traditional notions of art and inspiration, creating works that reflected their unconscious and subconscious minds.

An insight into organic abstraction, a style in which artists utilize the shapes, forms, and patterns of nature to create abstract images, can provide a greater appreciation for the significance of Surrealism in abstract art.

Surrealism as a movement

Surrealism originated in France in the early 1920s, emerging from the Dada movement. The Surrealists believed in the power of the subconscious mind as a tool for creativity, and they sought to tap into it through their art.

Key concepts and techniques in Surrealism

Surrealism is a literary and artistic movement that had a significant impact on the world of art. Originating in the early 1920s, surrealism brought about a new way of thinking and expression, focusing on the exploration of the unconscious mind. It aimed to revolutionize art by breaking traditional artistic conventions and creating a world of fantasy, dreams, and the impossible. In this article, we will delve into key concepts and techniques used by surrealists such as automatism, juxtaposition, dislocation, and dream imagery. We'll also explore how surrealism influenced and continues to influence abstract art.


One of the primary techniques utilized by Surrealist artists was automatism, or automatic drawing. This technique involved allowing the hand to move spontaneously across the surface of the paper, without conscious thought or direction.


Surrealist artists often combined unexpected and unrelated imagery to create a jarring effect, known as juxtaposition. This technique was designed to provoke a response in the viewer, challenging their expectations and making them question the meaning of the work.


Surrealism also utilized the technique of dislocation, which involved taking familiar objects and placing them in unfamiliar contexts. By removing objects from their normal environments, Surrealist artists sought to create a sense of unease or confusion in the viewer.

Dream imagery

Many Surrealist works were inspired by dreams, using dreamlike imagery and symbols to evoke a sense of the irrational and unconscious. These works often featured distorted or abstracted forms, adding to their surreal quality.

Surrealism's impact on abstract art

The techniques and concepts introduced by the Surrealist movement had a profound impact on abstract art, particularly in terms of the use of color and form. Many abstract artists in the mid-20th century were inspired by Surrealism, and they adopted its techniques in their own work.

The use of bright, contrasting colors and organic forms in abstract art can be traced back to the influence of Surrealism. Artists such as Mark Rothko and Joan Miro were heavily influenced by the techniques and concepts of Surrealism, creating works that explored the subconscious mind and the power of abstraction.

The continuing influence of Surrealism on abstract art

Today, Surrealism continues to influence abstract art. Many contemporary artists still utilize the techniques and concepts introduced by the Surrealists, creating works that challenge traditional notions of art and meaning.

  • The use of bold, contrasting colors and organic forms is still prevalent in abstract art today, as artists continue to explore the power of color and form in expressing emotion and conveying meaning.
  • The Surrealist technique of juxtaposition can still be seen in contemporary art, as artists combine unexpected and contrasting elements to create a sense of tension and unease.
  • The technique of automatic drawing has also influenced contemporary art, as artists seek to tap into their subconscious minds and create works that express their innermost thoughts and feelings.

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