What Is Surrealism?

What Is Surrealism?
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 4 to 6
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   6.69

     challenging words:    analyze, chaotic, eccentric, painters, shocking, subconscious, realistic, artistic, personality, matched, attribute, mysterious, dreams, poetry, thoughts, mystery
     content words:    Salvador Dali, Another Surrealist, Andre Breton, First World War, Sigmund Freud, Many Dadaists, Rene Magritte, Max Ernst

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What Is Surrealism?
By Colleen Messina

1     If you saw a picture of a clock melting, with half of it oozing over the edge of a table, what would you think about the artist? Would you think that he or she lived in a hot place? Would you think that the artist was crazy? Or would you think that you had had a glimpse of someone's dream? A melting clock is something you wouldn't expect to see in real life...or in a painting.
2     A melting clock is from a painting done by Salvador Dali in a bizarre art style called Surrealism. Surrealist paintings are fun to study. Surrealist paintings often have realistic subjects that are painted in perplexing ways. A different Surrealist painting shows a cheeseburger on a plate, which looks fine...until you notice that the slice of cheese has a face on it. Another Surrealist work has an old-fashioned phone stuck in a tree branch with a drop of water coming out of the mouthpiece of the phone. It is hanging over a plate that has a small photograph of Hitler on it. The painting is called Enigma of Hitler.
3     Surrealism was a movement that included both artists and writers. One important Surrealist writer who influenced many other Surrealists was a French doctor named Andre Breton. He fought in the trenches of the First World War, and he wrote poetry and articles. He studied the work of Sigmund Freud. He was fascinated when he tried to use Freud's ideas to analyze his patients. He joined one artistic group called the Dadaists in 1916 but had some problems with them. He later joined the Surrealists and wrote articles that explained Surrealism. These writings were called manifestos. He was said that his goal was to express "the true functioning of thought."

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