Surrealism in American Art


This section of the Traditional Fine Arts Organization (TFAO) catalogue Topics in American Art is devoted to the topic "Surrealism in American Art." Articles and essays specific to this topic published in TFAO's Resource Library are listed at the beginning of the section. Clicking on titles takes readers directly to the articles and essays. The date at the end of each title is the date of publication in Resource Library.

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Articles and essays from Resource Library in chronological order:

Lawrence Tarpey: Figures & Ground (6/27/16)

Arshile Gorky: A Retrospective (11/16/09)

David Michael Bowers: Humanity Unveiled (3/26/09)

Dark Metropolis: Irving Norman's Social Surrealism (1/31/07)

Dark Metropolis: Irving Norman's Social Surrealism (8/25/06)

Surrealism USA (3/21/05)

Lost Identities: Surrealist Works of Jo Owens Murray and Clifford Lamoree, with essays by Graziella Marchicelli (4/29/03)

Surrealism in America During the 1930s and 1940s: Selections from the Penny and Elton Yasuna Collection (12/18/99)

Edward Weston, Photography and Modernism (5/15/99)


TFAO references:

As of 12/5/13 TFAO Digital Library contained 230 pages referencing the word "Surrealism."


From other websites:

"American Surrealism and View Magazine," essay by Andrew Otwell, 1996, from Histories and Theories of Intermedia blog. Accessed August, 2015.

Gordon Onslow Ford: Voyager and Visionary, an exhibit held February 11 - May 13, 2012 at the Mint Museum. Includes Mintwiki with exhibit brochure, audio tour and video. Accessed March, 2015.

Joseph Cornell and Surrealism, an exhibit held March 7 - June 8, 2014 at the Fralin Museum of Art. Accessed January, 2016.

Kate Eric: One Plus One Minus One, an exhibit held June 26 to December 31, 2011 at the Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art. Accessed August, 2015.

Lamar Baker (1908 - 1994) Selected Works on Paper was an exhibit held July 23, 2016 - January 29, 2017 at the Columbus Museum - Georgia. The museum says: "One of the many important artists to work in Columbus, Lamar Baker is best known for his vivid, frequently surrealist, depictions of Southern life. An Atlanta native, Baker moved to New York in 1935 to work and study, returning to Georgia to spend summers with family in Waverly Hall. During his years in New York, Southern life and scenery remained the focus of his art." Accessed August, 2016.

Matt O'Neill: Thrift Store Sublime, an exhibit held March 29 - July 13, 2014 at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. Includes 8:29 video of interview with the artist, plus press coverage. [Link found to be expired as of 2015 audit. TFAO is saving the citation for use by researchers.]

Real/Surreal, an exhibit held January 25, 2014 to April 27, 2014 at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. The museum's website says: "This exhibition explores the interconnections between the real and the imagined in early modern American art, with an emphasis on Surrealism and Magic Realism." Also, "The Mystery Beneath is a companion exhibition to Real/Surreal in the main galleries. Including paintings, prints, and drawings, it explores the lasting traditions of Surrealism and Magic Realism as they developed in Wisconsin during the twentieth century." The Mystery Beneath was on exhibit January 25, 2014 to April 13, 2014 Accessed February, 2015

Robert Pepper, Selected Works of An Englishman Abroad, an exhibit held 3/11/00 - 6/11/00 at the Reading Public Museum. Includes essay by Robert Metzger, Ph.D, Director, CEO, Chief Curator, Reading Public Museum and Jane Runyeon, Co-curator. Accessed April, 2015.

Springs Surreal was a 1015-16 exhibit at Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, which says: "Springs Surreal celebrates the work of four Colorado Springs-based artists, each working within the realms of dreamscape, fantasy, ready-made, and chance. These artists are looking to their Surrealist predecessors and at the same time personalizing and contemporizing the philosophies that defined the movement during its inception during the early 20th century between World Wars I and II, taking form first in literature then in visual arts." Accessed 10/16

The Surreal Life: Gerry Snyder and Marco Rosichelli, an exhibit held September 25, 2009 - January 31, 2010 at the New Mexico Museum of Art. Accessed March, 2015.

Surrealism: An American Attitude at the Thomas McCormick Gallery, Chicago, March 23 - April 28, 2001, from Accessed August, 2015.

Surrealism USA - A Special Exhibition Review by Stan Parchin. From Accessed August, 2015.

Surrealism from AskArt. Accessed August, 2015.

"Surrealism" by James Voorhies, Department of European Paintings, The Metropolitan Museum of Art from the Timeline of Art History section of the Metropolitan Museum of Art website. Accessed August, 2015.

Alonso G. Smith: A Half Century of Social Surrealism. by Scott Beale. The webpage for the video says: "Produced during Alonso Smith's final years, this half-hour documentary explores the life and work of one of America's most fascinating surrealist painters whose legacy is an amazing body of work that stands as a visual document of the last half of the 20th Century." Accessed August, 2015.

San Jose Museum of Art produced a 5-part video series titled Todd Schorr: American Surreal, available online through ArtBabble. According to ArtBabble, "Todd Schorr has painted two large format paintings in which he addresses his influences as an artist - one reflects on the cartoon perspective and the other on the horror film perspective. In this video Todd offers insight into how the pieces came about and some of the subject matter in each. Todd Schorr: American Surreal is the first mid-career retrospective of the Los Angeles-based artist. Schorr is a leading figure in Southern California's cartoon-based movement, dubbed Pop Surrealism, which embraces low-brow culture and a ribald graphic style indebted to pop sources such as Mad magazine. Schorrs astonishing, highly polished realism, (inspired by Bosch, Brueghel and Dali), sets him apart from his best-known peers such as Camille Rose Garcia, Gary Baseman, and Mark Ryde" Accessed June, 2015.

Man Ray: Surrealist Meets Architect from Published on Oct 28, 2006 in Arts. Odeo says: "Who contributes more to the public perception of a building, the architect or the photographer? For Harwell Hamilton Harris, a California architect in the 1930s and 40s, the photographer who helped make Harrisâs buildings famous was one of the 20th centuryâs most celebrated Surrealists--Man Ray. Man Ray embraced the new ideas of art and culture, he was one of the leading spirits of DADA and Surrealism and the only American artist to play a prominent role in the launching of these two influential movements. He had never photographed architecture when Harris commissioned him to photograph three of Harris' most interesting houses. Man Rayâs architectural photos were unlike anything Harris had ever seen--and Man Ray never photographed architecture again. We, who are interested in architecture and art, are the better for Man Rayâs short, but memorable side trip into architecture, when two great artists--one a mild-mannered modernist, and one a Dada Surrealist--met on sunny hillsides in Los Angeles and Berkeley and created works of art, in architecture and photography. For more information about Man Ray and his art, read Ingrid Schaffner's book, The Essential Man Ray (2003,The Wonderland Press, Harry. N. Abrams, publishers). To see Man Ray's work online, visit And see what's surreal at Photograph of the Weston Havens House, Architect: Harwell Hamilton Harris; Photo by Man Ray, Copyright Man Ray Trust" [Link found to be expired as of 2015 audit. TFAO is saving the citation for use by researchers.]


DVD/VHS videos:

Irving Norman: To Whom It May Concern, a 27-minute documentary film by Susan Friedman.

Man Ray: Prophet of the Avant-Garde. This 60 minute 1997 Jackson Frost American Masters program looks at one of the most important artistic voices of the American modernist movement. Photographer, painter, filmmaker, poet, essayist and philosopher Man Ray brought innovation to every field he worked in, leaving behind a legacy of true genius. This program traces the artist's legacy from his beginnings in New York to his achievements in Paris and finally, to the impact his work left for future generations in a variety of fields The video also includes a previously unseen filmed interview found in the vaults of a Rotterdam museum and long-lost drawings from the artist's student days not seen since 1908. VHS/DVD. DVD includes extra Man Ray short films. See a trailer [01:31] via I. MDb. Accessed August, 2015.

View a video named similarly to Man Ray: Prophet of the Avant-Gard with Mel Sturat and Molly Barnes [28:01]. [Link found to be expired as of 2015 audit. TFAO is saving the citation for use by researchers.]

Voyage of the Tin Man, T.L. Solien is a 30-minute video on the art of T.L. Solien who has received increasing national attention for his surreal, highly personal visions of the world. Drawing upon the struggles of daily life, the landscape and his imagination, Solien's work is interesting and full of surprise (quote courtesy Plains Art Msueum)

TFAO does not maintain a lending library of videos or sell videos. Click here for information on how to borrow or purchase copies of VHS videos and DVDs listed in TFAO's Videos -DVD/VHS, an authoritative guide to videos in VHS and DVD format.



Surrealism USA (exh. cat.). Isabelle Dervaux et al. New York and Germany: National Academy Museum and Hatje Cantz Publishers, 2005.

A boatload of madmen surrealism and the American avant-garde, 1920-1950. Dickran Tashjian. New York, NY : Thames and Hudson, 2001.

Surrealism and American art, 1931-1947 : Rutgers University Art Gallery, March 5-April 24, 1977. Jeffrey Wechsler, with collaboration and an introductory essay by Jack J. Spector. New Brunswick, N.J. : Rutgers, 1976.

Abstract & surrealist art in America New York, 1896-1989. Janis Sidney. Arno Press, 1969.

Surrealism in exile and the beginning of the New York school. Martica Sawin. Cambridge, Mass. : MIT Press, 1995.

Pacific dreams: currents of surrealism and fantasy in California art, 1934-1957. Edited by Susan Ehrlich. Los Angeles : UCLA at the Armand Hammer Museum of Art and Cultural Center, c1995.

Dada, Surrealism, and Their Heritage. William S. Rubin. New York, The Museum of Modern Art, 1968


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