Surrealist Ghostliness by Katharine Conley, and: Tiny Surrealism: Salvador Dali and the Aesthetics of the Small by Roger Rothman (review)


Surrealism remains an object of fascination for scholars and the public alike, with ebbs and flows ranging from rejection and devaluation to moments of exciting rediscoveries and theorizations. Following a long period of scholarly disdain in the 1970s, the period of the mid-1980s to mid-1990s was one such moment of reevaluation. Until then a mostly literary movement invested in the production of obscure texts, surrealism was revisited as a dynamic art movement and gained a position in the narratives of modernist art. Parallel blockbuster exhibitions in London, Paris, and New York underscored the ongoing appeal of surrealist art for a contemporary public. Scholarly work of the last ten years shows that surrealism has again become the subject of intense and novel investigation, with interdisciplinary approaches that reveal the epistemological foundations of the movement and its impact on the history of ideas. In accordance with tendencies in modernist studies in general, recent scholarship has been invested in considerably extending the surrealist archive: the surrealist canon is being revised, with the spotlight on lesser-known writers and artists, many of them women, but also on lesser-known theoretical work by prominent figures in the movement, like Breton, Eluard, Aragon, and others. The surrealist geography is also expanding, as interest turns towards the global reach of the movement, the study of local and national surrealist traditions, and their import in our understanding of surrealism as a global phenomenon. To these expansions should be added the revision of surrealism’s chronology, as the post-WWII period draws increasing interest and the movement’s sway on the avant-garde of the 1950s and the 1960s is reevaluated.

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