The 20th Century marked a changed in how people viewed the known world. Since its beginning art has played a major role in how people were able to express themselves. The early 20th century brought rise to new and exciting art forms. These were types of writings, paintings and, documentaries that no one had ever seen before. From expressionism to Dadaism types of work ranged by all means of the artist. About the 1920’s a new wave of art would soon be seen worlds over. This art form introduced psychology in a new way to look at the conscious and subconscious minds.
From the beginning Dadaism and surrealism showed true signs of influence from psychology. Each using new ideas of the conscious and unconscious worlds in each art form. These ideas would come together and form a new revolution of art and science as one in the early 1920’s. As the world opens a new door into the 20th century, the art world is taken by storm. The outbreak of World War I did not stop the creativeness of new century artist. They embraced the war and expressed how it made them feel. During this time a revolution in psychology was coming to mind.
Sigmund Freud was uncovering what we use our conscious and unconscious minds for. He wrote about how the unconscious drives of the mind governed the body. Freud also made it clear in his,” Interpretation of Dreams”, that dreams were significant to every individual. Since Freud was stirring up a new revolution in thinking artist all over the world were taking what he said to mind. These new forms of art or movements served as a changing time in the world’s art forms. Many art forms have been introduced into our culture, but the two that made an impact all over the world is Dadaism and Surrealism.
Each of these forms used a new approach at the world of art. As Freudian culture swept the world a group of artist intrigued by his work, called themselves Dada. This simple word had no relative meaning to art or Freud, but this was the way they felt their work could be expressed. In this movement of Dadaism, Freud played a significant role in how their art was formed. They used the unconscious world to express their paintings or writings. As Freud felt dreams were unconscious desire’s not expressed in the real world; Dada artist used this in their work.
They also felt that,” everything obscure in the mind, buried deep, unrevealed”, (Fiero 41) as one French playwright revealed. Each artist of the Dada era had a new way of expressing Freud’s ideas. They also felt that art was a powerful means of self-revelation, and that the images came from ones subconscious mind had a truth of its own. As Marcel Duchamp mocked the Mona Lisa by drawing a mustache on her, stated that the painting was a lewd message set by the conventional way of thinking. Since the Dada artist did not believe in western culture this made sense, because people only want believe what is told to them, instead of what is true.
The Dada movement marked a meeting of people to have “noise concerts” where they recited poems in a free association verse. In these poetry readings the artist perceived how they felt about the world. As World War I began the Dadaist perceived it as a world gone mad. Not only did they express their work in unconventional ways; they used the subconscious as a way of making their views true. Although the Dada era was short lived it influenced and questioned the traditional concepts of the western world. These techniques set an agenda for a new trial by error art form of this same era.
The spirit of Freud in the Dadaist era never really died, it is shown today as “Pop art” or sometimes known as neo-Dada art forms. Also this revolution of thinking and art paved the way for the Surrealist movement. The Surrealist movement of the 1920’s through 1930’s captivated the world with its bizarre way of thinking. Just as the Dadaist used Freud’s way of thinking so did the surrealist. Both of these groups were anti-rationalist and concerned with creating shocking and disturbing pieces of art. The Surrealist were positive in their spirit of thinking.
The pioneer of Surrealism was Andre Breton, when he launched the movement with his publication of the Manifeste du surrealisme in 1924. The central idea of this movement was to release the creative powers of the subconscious mind. (Chilvers and Osbourne 545) This theory was one of elements influenced by the Freudian movement. As Freud believed that the unconscious was an interpretation of wanted desire’s, this was expressed in the Surrealist art. The dreams and free association of their art became the means of new reality for them.
As Breton described Surrealism as ” pure psychic automatism… intended to express, verbally, in writing or by other means, the real process of thought; thoughts dictation, in the absence of all control exercised by reason, and outside all aesthetic or moral preoccupation”(Birdsall et al. 908). This truly showed the influence of the Freudian culture in their art. Not only did the surrealist use the Dream State; they also had their unconscious desires replicated in their art. As surrealism evolved a new artist named Salvador Dali lead the movement into a new direction.
Dali like most surrealists’ agreeded with Freud that dreams were a form of free association. When using his dreams for art, he did not sensor them, because Dali felt that his dreams were reality and expressed them in his art. Not only did the Surrealist use Freud’s writings on free association and dream analysis they glorified it in their everyday work. By going against the normal wave of culture, Surrealism paved the way for new forms of thinking. Although it broke up during the war, surrealism offered an alternative approach to various types of abstract art.
Its influences and ideas are still with many artists today. Overall the 20th century brought a new wave of creative advances in the art world. People were now open to new and exciting ways of expressing how they felt. With the advances in both art and psychology it brought about a new culture in artistic form. Surrealist and Dadaist have many key characteristics alike but Freud was truly their equal. Each group felt that the unconscious was wanted desires by that person. Not only did artist express it in their works they brought it to a new a revolution in all art forms.
As in the Dada movement they used unexpected ways to express their art and poetry. Every artist used new and uncharacteristic ways of making art. Each one had a new style like the Tzara using newspapers to create poetry and Duchamp using cubism and futurism to mock De Vinci’s Mona Lisa. Surrealism also used Freud’s writings on free association and dream analysis, to glorify the psyche by using it in their work. As the people of the mid 20th century saw an era come to an end, they kept the spirits alive in continuing to make new and obscure art become a reality in such a culture dominated world.