The Surrealist Revolution

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The riddle of the rocks by Jonathan Jones
It was the art movement that shocked the world. It was sexy, weird and dangerous—and it’s still hugely influential today. Jonathan Jones travels to the coast of Spain to explore the landscape that inspired Salvador Dalí, the greatest surrealist of them all.

The Guardian, Monday March 5, 2007

I AM SCRAMBLING over the rocks that dominate the coastline of Cadaqués in north-east Spain. They look like crumbling chunks of bread floating on a soup of seawater. Surreal is a word we throw about easily today, almost a century after it was coined by the poet Guillaume Apollinaire. Yet if there is anywhere on earth you can still hope to put a precise and historical meaning on the “surreal” and “surrealism”, it is among these rocks. To scramble over them is to enter a world of distorted scale inhabited by tiny monsters. Armoured invertebrates crawl about on barely submerged formations. I reach into the water for a shell and the orange pincers of a hermit crab flick my fingers away.

The entire history of surrealism—from the collages of Max Ernst to Salvador Dalí’s Lobster Telephone—can be read in these igneous formations, just as surely as they unfold the geological history of Catalonia.

I sit down on a jagged ridge. What if I fell? Would they find a skeleton looking just like the bones of the four dead bishops in L’Age d’Or, the surrealist film Luis Buñuel shot here in 1930?

Buñuel had been shown these rocks by his college friend Dalí years earlier. It was here they had scripted their infamous film Un Chien Andalou. Dalí came from Figueras, on the Ampurdán plain beyond the mountains that enclose Cadaqués, and spent his childhood summers here, exploring the rock pools and being cruel to the sea creatures. In most people’s eyes, this is a beautiful Mediterranean setting. It certainly looked lovely to Dalí’s close friend, the poet Federico García Lorca, when Dalí brought him here in the 1920s: in his Ode to Salvador Dalí, Lorca lyrically praises the moon reflected in the calm, wide bay…

Continues here.

Previously on { feuilleton }
The persistence of DNA
Salvador Dalí’s apocalyptic happening
The music of Igor Wakhévitch
Dalí Atomicus
Las Pozas and Edward James
Impressions de la Haute Mongolie

View: The Modern Magazine

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Portrait of Charles Henri Ford in Poppy Field by Pavel Tchelitchew (1933).

View magazine was an American periodical of art and literature, published quarterly from 1940 to 1947 with heavy emphasis on the Surrealist art of the period. The astonishing list of contributors included Jorge Luis Borges, Alexander Calder, Albert Camus, Marc Chagall, Joseph Cornell, Jean Dubuffet, Lawrence Durrell, Max Ernst, Jean Genet, Paul Klee, Henry Miller, René Magritte, André Masson, Joan Miró, Georgia O’Keefe, Pablo Picasso, Man Ray, Edouard Roditi, Yves Tanguy, and Pavel Tchelitchew.

Continue reading “View: The Modern Magazine”