Surrealism Vs Pop Art

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By tracing a timeline through different art movements, not only are we able to see how modern and contemporary art has developed, but we can interpret it as a reflection of its time. In this essay, I will be discussing two art movements - surrealism and pop art. The Surrealism movement depicted bizarre scenes and dream imagery but retained a certain playfulness which would be later seen in pop art.

Founded by poet André Breton in Paris 1924, surrealism was an artistic and literary movement. Breton defined surrealism as “psychic automatism in its pure state, by which one proposes to express - verbally, by means of the written word, or in any other manner - the actual functioning of thought”. The Surrealists ultimately desired to channel the artist’s unconscious mind as a means to unlock the power of the imagination - so that the artist would be able to bypass reason and rationality so that they would no longer be weighed down by taboo and social constructs.

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Pop art started with the New York artists Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, James Rosenquist, and Claes Oldenburg - who sought to celebrate commonplace objects and people of everyday life. The subject matter of this movement was intentionally far from the traditional ‘high art’ themes of morality, mythology, and classic history - instead, its objective was to elevate popular culture to the level of fine art. The artists of this era chose to depict everyday, commonplace objects such as a bottle of Coca-Cola or a Campbell’s condensed tomato soup can - things that would have been anywhere and bought by anyone - rich or poor and paid no mind to social standing.

In all honesty, I think that these art movements are completely bizarre and oddly hilarious. Surrealism’s desire was to break free of reason and wanted to question the most basic foundation of artistic production- it proposed the idea that art is the product of a single artist’s creative imagination. On the other hand, pop art completely shifted focus - from fine art/ the question of what art is to completely ordinary things and people- from which the masses could recognize and relate to. Artists went from questioning what art is, what it can be, and unlocking the unconscious to find a greater meaning to completely mundane objects and celebrities. From melting clocks in desert and furry teacups to Campbell’s soup cans and floor cake.

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Surrealism Vs Pop Art. (2022, August 25). Edubirdie. Retrieved April 13, 2024, from
“Surrealism Vs Pop Art.” Edubirdie, 25 Aug. 2022,
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