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It refers to a movement launched in Paris in 1924 with the publication of the Manifesto of Surrealism by Andre Breton. It derives its major influence from Sigmund Freud's theories of psychoanalysis with its aim to "resolve the previously contradictory conditions of dream and reality." The surrealists aimed to reveal the unconscious of the human mind and they did so in literature, art and cinema by changing the modes of representation and the aesthetics of imagery. Surrealist art does not relate to any one particular style but broadly two recurring categories can be seen: the dream-like works and Automatism, both derived from Freud. Dreams reveal the workings of the unconscious mind and Automatism was associated with Freud's technique of free association. It is also associated with an element of surprise an unexpected contradictions.

Major surrealist artists would Salvador Dali, Max Ernst and René Magritte.

Further Reading
André Breton, Manifestoes of Surrealism, 1969

Elza Adamowicz, Surrealism: Crossings/Frontiers, 2006

Salvador Dalí, Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee Around a Pomegranate a Second Before Awakening, 1944, Oil on canvas, 51 cm x 40.5 cm (20 in x 15.9 in), Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, Madrid