50 Examples of Surreal Art

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Audrey Kawasaki – Sisters – Audrey Kawasaki is exceptionally skilled in drawing, while creating beautiful, surreal scenes filled with lovely female characters.

Established on the grounds of modernist Surrealism, contemporary Surreal art is a style widely followed by thousands of artists. Although the course of art changed and evolved through history, Surreal Art never ceased to exist, while today it’s undergoing a revival in Pop Surrealism and similar movements.

Original Surrealism started in the second decade of the 20th century as a literary movement. Fascinated by the idea of automatism or automatic writing, a group of artists led by Andre Breton soon became obsessed with automatic drawing as well. They invented a series of new techniques, such as Cadavre Exquis or photo-montage. Belonging to the first generation of Surrealists, there were Max Ernst, Andre Masson, Joan Miro and Man Ray, but the movement reached its painterly peek with Rene Magritte, Yves Tanguy and, particularly with, Salvador Dali. Mexican artist and rebel, Frida Kahlo, is stylistically often associated with the movement, although her art is largely intimistic and engaged.

As the Second World War brought many new movements, Surrealism was either abandoned, or great figures of the style altered their visions. Some of the artists who remained close to the movement were Conroy Maddox, Roberto Matta, Dorothea Tanning, Louise Bourgeois, to mention a few. The art of the unreal stayed alive until the Postmodern age, as one of the favorite foundations of today’s eclecticism, visible in direct descendants such as Pop Surrealism or alternative expressions such as Psychedelic Art or Outsider Art.

Perhaps the most obvious contemporary outlet for Surreal Art is Pop Surrealism, a movement that appeared in the 70s in California. It arose inspired by alternative, pop, punk and comic culture, often spiced with a healthy dose of humor. As kitsch entered officially recognized artistic circles, it affected the lowbrow Pop Surrealistic scene, and today, there are many creatives who create merging the two ideas. Their skills are often stunning, while their polished, likeable, vivid expression is gaining more and more admirers.

1. Alessia Iannetti

Alessia Iannetti is a phenomenal draughtsman, who creates surreal art filled with beautiful and strange imagery.

2. Alex Gross – Twins

Alex Gross makes normal scenes riches and surreal in his digital-three dimensional way.

3. Alex Grey – Meditation

Alex Grey is a Psychedelic art representative, connected with the New Age movement and spiritual art.

4. Andre Masson

Masson also belonged to the original early Surrealist movement, with his almost Fauvist, unreal depictions.

5. Anne Angelshaug

Pop Surrealist artist Anne Angelshaug has a wonderfully eerie illustrative style, with developed big-headed characters.

7. Brian Despain – The prodigal son, 2009

Brian Despain is a famous Pop Surrealist artist, known for his robotic characters in classical roles.

8. Chris Berens – How To Catch A Tidal Wave

Chris Berens is a Pop Surrealist with elaborate, rich pictorial style.

9. Christos Tsintsaris – The Great Escape, 2013

Christos Tsintsaris also renders an Alice in Wonderland related topic.

10. Chrystal Chan

Her art is more fantasy, but painting skills of Chrystal Chan are rather traditional.

11. Conroy Maddox, The Strange Country, 1940

One of rare British followers of European early Surrealism, who stayed true to the movement even after the war.

12. Dan Quintana

Dan Quintana is a contemporary surrealist from California, dedicated to depicting beautiful women in invented environments.

13. Dorothea Tanning, Hôtel du Pavot, Chambre 202 – Poppy Hotel, Room 202 – 1970-73, mixed media

Dorothea Tanning is the follower of Surrealism long after the Second World War.

14. Elena Cermaria – Angeli

Elena Cermaria is an Italian artist, who depicted this angelic representation of a family.

15. Ernst Fuchs – Crucification, 1950

Ernst Fuchs is a late Surrealist, who painted religious subjects in a different, imaginative manner.

16. M.C. Escher – Relativity

M.C. Escher is a known illusionist, but his illusions are also Surreal, not only deceptive.

17. Femke Hiemstra – Holi cow, 2013

Femke Hiemstra is a contemporary Pop Surrealist, who paints following the tradition of tryptich, but in a completely pop-kitschy way.

18. Francesca Romana di Nunzio

Francesca Romana di Nunzio is known for her beautiful surreal sculptures, such as this winged head.

19. Frida Kahlo – Wounded Deer, 1946

Painting her tragic destiny whole of her life, Frida here depicts herself as a wounded woodland animal, in a completely surreal environment.

20. George Grie – Mermaid syndrom, 2006

George Grie is a Pop Surrealist whose sea scene oozes oneiric and gloomy atmosphere.

21. Henry Darger – The Story of the Vivian Girls

Henry Darger spent his life as a janitor by day, and as a painter and inventor of a whole another realm where the Vivian Girls rule. He’s one of the brightest examples of Outsider Art.

22. HR Giger – Alien

Recently deceased, HR Giger was famous as the inventor of Alien visual identity.

23. HR Giger

He also made a lot of paintings, drawings and prints in the same sci-fi style.

24. Jessica Stoller – Bustfruit

Jessica Stoller makes wonderful and unexpected surreal sculptures, with a polished and aesthetized surface.

25. Mark Ryden – Jessica’s Hope

Mark Ryden is one of the most famous Pop Surrealists.

26. Joan Miro – Women and birds at sunrise

Miro was one of the most important representatives of Surrealism, known for his microcosmic depictions.

27. Kazuki Takamatsu

Kazuki Takamatsu makes monochrome, macabre shadowy scenes.

28. Kwon Kyungyup

Korean artist Kwon Kyungyup is known for his pale, unreal portraits of imaginary women.

29. Leslie Ditto

Leslie Ditto, like many Pop Surrealists, delves into the world of Alice in the Wonderland.

30. Madeline von Foerster – The Red Thread

Madeline von Foerster makes numerous references to classic painting and themes in her surreal artwork.

31. Louise Bourgeois – Maman, Bilbao

Louise Bourgeois is also the post-war follower of Surrealism, while she made fantastic large scale sculptures, such as this one placed in front of the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao.

32. Man Ray – Observatory time, 1936

Man Ray was the original Surrealist, known for his photo-montage and paintings as well.

33. Mark Ryden – Incarnation, 2009

Ryden’s ode to the meat dress, once worn by Lady Gaga in reality.

34. Mark – Tree of Life

Ryden’s interpretation of heaven, derivative from the biblical topics.

35. Max Ernst – L’Ange du Foyeur

Max Ernst was one of the most innovative Surrealists of the early 20th century, revered for his paintings and collages as well.

36. Melting Clock bench at Dalí Museum, St. Petersburg, Florida

Dali is so famous, that a museum in Florida made this surreal sculpture in his honor.

37. Peter Ferguson – Still Here

Peter Ferguson is a contemporary painter, who often paints extinct large animals in normal, everyday situations amongst people.

38. Ray Caesar – Tea with me and he, 2012

Ray Caesar paints, in a very realistic way, interpretations of fairy tales from a particular vantage point.

39. Rene Magritte – The Lovers

Rene Magritte is one of the most famous Surrealists, who was obsessed with painting fabric over human faces, as he did in his iconic painting “The Lovers”.

40. Roberto Matta – Elle Loge La Folie, 1970

Roberto Matta stayed true to Surrealism, even after it was greatly abandoned and not trendy.

41. Roby Dwi Antono

This depiction of Rabbit and the oddity by Roby Dwi Antono is the typical example of Pop Surrealism.

42. Salvador Dali – The persistence of memory, 1931

One of Dali’s most iconic and most famous paintings, representing the passage of time and its irony.

43. Stacey Ransom & Jason Mitchell

A duo made of set designer and digital artist Ransom and director-photographer Mitchell creates Surreal Art in their San Francisco studio.

44. Terry Gilliam

The figure behind the Monty Python’s phenomenal animations is Terry Gilliam, a brilliant artist, movie director and Surrealist.

45. Travis a Louie

Travis a Louie plays with notions of old photographs, but makes his subjects odd, monster-like and not human.

46. Pablo Amaringo – Unicornio Dorado

Abundance of color used by Pablo Amaringo places this painter in the middle of Psychodelic art.

47. Vladimir Kush – Metamorphosis

Vladimir Kush is a contemporary Surrealist, one of the most typical examples of the style today.

48. Yu Jin Sung – at that moment, on that day, we were…

Korean artist Yu Jin Sung renders mixtures of humans and animals, placing them in accessible, likeable positions and situations.

49. Yves Tanguy – Slowly Toward the North

Yves Tanguy was one of the most important Surrealists in the movement.

50. Interesni Kazki – End of War

Ukrainian street art duo Interesni Kazki creates surreal art murals and paintings, while referencing gothic, contemporary and imagined imagery.