“With Eyes Wide Open”: The American Reception of Surrealism

Part of the Studies in European Culture and History book series (SECH)


In the 1930s and early 1940s, surrealist ideas and practices, with their emphasis on the unconscious, the irrational, and the accidental, significantly broadened both the painterly and the narrative possibilities open to American artists. The cultural impact of the surrealist emigres in the 1940s was prepared by the prior decade of transatlantic exchange. Following a period of experimentation and negotiation, American artists would effect a transvaluation of surrealism by bringing to bear a range of new postwar cultural, scientific, and broadly philosophical influences. Together, the two phases of encounter with surrealism—the 1930s and the 1940s—furnished a vital catalyst that would give new energy and definition to native tendencies while introducing new practices and propelling American art beyond its conservative grounding in the idea of art as a mirror of the social.


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© Sabine Eckmann and Lutz Koepnick 2007

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