Surrealist Art and the Unconscious Mind

Surrealism, n. Pure psychic automatism, by which one proposes to express, either verbally, in writing, or by any other manner, the real functioning of thought. Dictation of thought in the absence of all control exercised by reason, outside of all aesthetic and moral preoccupation.

My third grade artists have been studying the Surrealist Art Movement since September, first working with words – using existing poetry to create remixed narratives. As we begin our painting unit, the third graders are preparing images that employ “Random Juxtaposition,” which forces the viewer to create links between formerly unrelated objects. Through interpreting these juxtapositions, we unlock our unconscious thoughts- one of the primary aims of the Surrealist artists. While the third grade students will be creating paintings, you can easily try this exercise at home using magazine and newspaper clippings:

Choose one item for each category listed below- try to go with your first instinct. Gather images from color prints, magazines or newspapers, cut them out and arrange on a piece of paper until you reach a balanced composition that pleases you. Paste your images down and add extra details in ink, paint or collaged blocks of color. Share your work with a friend and ask them to share the story it tells them!

Example juxtaposition worksheet