Class 6: Dadaism, Surrealism, Abstract Expressionism

Class 6: Dadaism, Surrealism, Abstract Expressionism


An early 20th century art movement where artists rejected logic, reason, and aestheticism of modern capitalist society, and chose instead to express irrationality, absurdism, nonsensical themes, and protest of war, nationalism, and violence. Dada works often challenged conventional definitions of what “art” is. Dada artists systematically challenged established canons of art, morality, thought, and aesthetics.

Marcel Duchamp

Duchamp, Fountain, 1917

Man Ray



A cultural and artistic movement that began in the early 1920s. It was an avant-garde movement that sought to release the creative potential of the unconscious mind by putting together images in non-logical ways, creating odd creatures from a juxtaposition of everyday objects, and producing images that look realistic yet absurd.

Salvador Dali: Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee Around a Pomegranate a Second Before Awakening, 1944

Dali: The Elephants, 1948

Dali, Galatea of the Spheres, 1952

Rene Magritte, The Son of Man (1964)

Magritte, Golconde (1953)

Magritte, The Mysteries of the Horizon (1955)

Rene Magritte, The Telescope (1963)

Abstract Expressionism

Abstract Expressionism:

An artistic movement that was a development of abstract art. It originated in New York in the 1940s and 1950s, and aimed at subjective emotional expression with particular emphasis on the creative spontaneous act (e.g., action painting).

Abstract Art

Abstract Art:

Art that is unconcerned with the literal depiction of things from the visible world; instead, the image reshapes the natural world for expressive purposes and does not imitate a recognizable subject. Instead, the focus could be shapes, colors, lines, emotions, or many other elements.

Image: Josef Albers, Homage to the Square, 1965

Josef Albers

Albers, Homage to the Square series

Jackson Pollock

Chromatic Abstraction

Chromatic Abstraction:

A technique of Abstract Expressionism characterized primarily by large fields of flat, solid color spread across or stained into the canvas. This creates areas of unbroken surface color and a flat picture plane. Also called Color Field Painting.

Mark Rothko

Rothko Chapel

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