More than Melting Clocks: 10 Surrealist Masterpieces You Need to Know

Among radical 20th century art movements (of which there are more than a few), Surrealism is one of the few that’s been able to establish a hold on the popular as well as avant-garde imaginary, in no small part due to the outlandish public persona of its self-proclaimed ringleader Salvador Dalí. What’s sometimes forgotten, however, are the vastly different ways the Surrealist techniques of mining the subconscious were realized by artists from Armenia to the Americas. As theses 10 paintings excerpted from Phaidon’s The Art Book show, the results are diverse, hallucinatory, and wholly unique.

The Joan Miro painting Women and Bird in the Moonlight, 1949: Playing and mingling acrobatically with one another, these imaginary, frolicking figures project themselves vivaciously into the foreground. The background paint has been rubbed away to show the canvas underneath, lending it a raw, earthy quality. Evoking imagery from a primitive world, the magical figures conjure up thoughts of prehistoric cave-paintings, restored to us with all their freshness.

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