Was Surrealism A Mistake?

No.

Not it was not.

This article says otherwise, but it’s a bit of a weak cup of tea (though, in the author’s defense, he’s not given much of a word count to make his case).

No one is asking a writer who submitting an article to the American Conservative to make a fierce case for the Marxian tinged politics of Andre Breton, but it’s more than a little disingenuous the way that surrealism has been dismissed artistically.

He starts by taking a very narrow view of surrealism. So narrow, that it is entirely limited to those who lived entirely by the strictures of Breton. By that definition, the following individuals were not surrealist: Salvador Dali, Rene Char, and the later works (after, say Capital of Pain) of Paul Eluard. This is a very narrow view of the surrealist practice.

And his use of American artists from the mid-century as an example of the… inadequacy?… of surrealism is irritating. I expect artists to appropriate and oedipally reject their predecessors, but that’s not a sign of their predecessors failure. By that metric, the impressionists were a failure because Matisse and Picasso weren’t painting in the style of Monet, but appropriating portions of his style and rejecting others. That’s not failure; that’s life.

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