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surrealism Syllabification: sur·re·al·ism
Pronunciation: /səˈrēəˌlizəm/

Definition of surrealism in English:


A 20th-century avant-garde movement in art and literature that sought to release the creative potential of the unconscious mind, for example by the irrational juxtaposition of images.

Launched in 1924 by a manifesto of André Breton and having a strong political content, the movement grew out of symbolism and Dada and was strongly influenced by Sigmund Freud. In the visual arts its most notable exponents were André Masson, Jean Arp, Joan Miró, René Magritte, Salvador Dalí, Max Ernst, Man Ray, and Luis Buñuel

Example sentences
  • Similarly, Kelley combats critics who reduce surrealism to an aesthetic movement.
  • The need for the viewer to decipher the work was exactly what the artists who first forayed into the world of surrealism had in mind.
  • Abstract expressionism, collage, surrealism, impressionism and the use of other materials were expressly banned.


Pronunciation: /səˈrēəlist/
noun& adjective
Example sentences
  • French surrealist André Breton played a major part in bringing her work to the attention of Americans.
  • Ernst was in the surrealist elite led by André Breton, who invited him to exhibit in Paris in 1921.
  • McLuhan was also attractive to Dadaists, futurists, cubists, constructivists, abstract expressionists and surrealists.
Pronunciation: /səˌrēəˈlistik/
Example sentences
  • His style has been loosely described as expressionistic, surrealistic, naive, and primitive, but was also strongly influenced by the urban realism of John Sloan.
  • Baldwin weaves biblical imagery deftly into this surrealistic episode, as John undergoes a trial by fire for his soul.
  • ‘There is no overt surrealistic content in the sculpture,’ he wrote.
Pronunciation: /səˌrēəˈlistik(ə)lē/
Example sentences
  • I'm not being vain, but everyone in our suite is surrealistically beautiful.
  • The sets were just painted cardboard, but they were also surrealistically stunning.
  • In the dancing light of the flames our faces glowed surrealistically as we talked and tended the fire.


Early 20th century: from French surréalisme (see sur-1, realism).

Definition of surrealism in:
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