Surrealism was a literary and art movement, dedicated to expressing the imagination as revealed in dreams, free of the conscious control of reason and convention. Surrealism inherited its anti-rationalist sensibility from Dada, but was lighter in spirit than that movement. Like Dada, it was shaped by emerging theories on our perception of reality, the most obvious influence being Freud"s model of the subconscious.
Founded in Paris in 1924 by André Breton with his Manifesto of Surrealism, the movement"s principal aim was "to resolve the previously contradictory conditions of dream and reality into an absolute reality, a super-reality". Its roots can be traced back to French poets such as Arthur Rimbaud, Charles Baudelaire and Lautreamont, the latter providing the famous line that summed up the Surrealists" love of the incongruous; "Beautiful as the chance encounter of a sewing machine and an umbrella on a dissecting table."
The major Surrealist painters were Jean Arp, Max Ernst, André Masson, René Magritte, Yves Tanguy, Salvador Dalí, Pierre Roy, Paul Delvaux, and Joan Miró. With its emphasis on content and free form, Surrealism provided a major alternative to the contemporary, highly formalistic Cubist movement and was largely responsible for perpetuating in modern painting the traditional emphasis on content.