Surrealism since the Second World War with particular reference to surrealism in Czechoslovakia
Author(s)Inman, James Stuart
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AbstractThis research contends that the public image of Surrealism is grossly misrepresented and therefore misunderstood in terms of its nature, its manifestations and its duration. Widely seen as an art movement of the inter-war period that tried to combine Marxism and Psychoanalysis to produce irrational images, Surrealism saw itself as nothing of the sort. In fact Surrealism was, and is, an attempt at an entirely new and revolutionary understanding and experience of life, entailing both social and internal transformation. The art works issuing from the movement are therefore a by-product not an end in themselves. Several typical examples of this misrepresentation are cited and the surrealist perspective given. The theme is developed by outlining the post-war history of Surrealism in France. This is not the main area of research, but is contextually important to what follows. The main section is concerned with a critical history of Surrealism in Czechoslovakia. Within the Surrealist Movement the activities of the Czech and Slovak surrealists, both individually and collectively, are considered to be of the greatest importance, perhaps along with Belgium second only to manifestations in France. The reason for this resides not only in the evident quality of individual artists, but in their collective activities and their whole, very distinctive, intellectual approach, employing a range of disciplines from linguistics to Hermeticism. The most important reason for the Czechoslovak surrealists being so little known until now is shown to be due in large measure to their having been forced to work clandestinely under hostile political regimes, first under the Nazis and then the Communists. Key works are critically examined in their internal and wider surrealist contexts and in the context of general artistic and social issues of the time. The collaborations between the post-1969 surrealist group around Bounoure and the Czechoslovak group on the journal Bulletin de Liaison Surrealiste are discussed, and their importance in promoting the continuation of surrealist activity. In the last years of the Communist regime the work of Jan Svankmajer became well known and since the Velvet Revolution along with the growth of his international reputation as a film-maker his fellow members have become better known. This recent period and its likely consequences are discussed. Having brought the historical aspects up to date, it is possible to place Surrealism in its wider cultural context, its conflicts and parallels with other movements in art, philosophy and politics, such as its relationship with Critical Theory and Post Modernism.
Inman, James Stuart (1997) Surrealism since the Second World War with particular reference to surrealism in Czechoslovakia. MPhil thesis, University of Greenwich.