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Eine Kleine Nachtmusik
© ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2021. Photo credit: Tate

Eine Kleine Nachtmusik 1943

Dorothea Tanning (1910–2012)

Tate

One of the most important and subversive movements of the 20th century, it flourished particularly in the 1920s and 1930s and provided a radical alternative to the rational and formal qualities of Cubism. Unlike Dada, from which in many ways it sprang, it emphasized the positive rather than the nihilistic. Surrealism sought access to the subconscious and to translate this flow of thought into terms of art. Originally a literary movement, it was famously defined by the poet André Breton in the First Manifesto of Surrealism (1924): 'SURREALISM, noun, masc. Pure psychic automatism by which it is intended to express either verbally or in writing the true function of thought. Thought dictated in the absence of all control exerted by reason, and outside all aesthetic or moral preoccupations.'

Text source: The Oxford Concise Dictionary of Art Terms (2nd Edition) by Michael Clarke

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