Surrealism, Abstract Expressionism, and Experimental Film

For my Searcher post this week, I wanted to showcase some more surrealist art. Salvador Dali, in particular, is one of the most famous surrealist artists, and we saw his experimental film in class on Tuesday. The motif of ants appear in much of his work, because Dali was actually terrified of insects crawling over his skin. Ants in his work also tend to symbolize death and decay.

The Persistence of Memory (1931) – You can see the ants crawling around in the lower left corner. 

The Temptation of St. Anthony (1946)

Surrealist art explores the human mind. Many of the artists of this time were moving away from “retinal” art, or art that exists to look beautiful, or to please the eye. Artists wanted to engage the mind, and this idea is present throughout much of art throughout the 20th century.

Finally, I wanted to showcase some of Pollock’s art, which I mentioned in class. I love, love, love Jackson Pollock. The problem with copying and pasting his work into this blog is that Pollock’s paintings really have zero effect when viewed from a computer screen. His work is enormous– when you stand in front it completely dominates your field of view and then you experience his work. Until I saw a Pollock in person I didn’t get that excited when talking about him, and now he’s my favorite artist. If you’re ever in DC, the National Gallery of Art is free and amazing. So definitely if you have 20 minutes to spare, go check out Pollock in person. It’s so much more powerful.

Autumn Rhythm (1950)

Lavender Mist (1950) – This is the one in the National Gallery of Art. It’s awesome.

His work is also important conceptually when talking about experimental film, because many abstract expressionists and surrealists (and really, many of the 20th century art movements) deal with self-inspection of what art means, and what art is fundamentally. It seems like experimental films do something similar: what is film? What does film mean? What can film do?

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