Art as a dream
Let’s start with history. Somewhere in 1919, André Breton, Louis Aragon and Philippe Soupault became friends. They can be considered the founders of a new movement, which began to form after The Magnetic Fields by André Breton and Philippe Soupault was published in May 1920. In this book, automatism, the main artistic idea of surrealism was manifested.
André Masson created automatic drawings. He took a sheet of paper, a pen or a pencil, and scribbled lines and spots, until the images began to appear from them.
The development of the style was greatly influenced by the very popular at that time psychoanalysis of Sigmund Freud, especially his analysis of dreams. According to Freud, a dream is a work of the unconscious mind, which breaks loose while the conscious mind rests. Surrealists shared the scientist’s views on the importance of the unconscious and its inexhaustibility. The real art is seen by Surrealists in the rejection of their own conscious thought, because the idea is subjective, and art, on the contrary, should be objective. So is the unconscious — dream. A dream is the continuation of reality, but the objective one, which is not imposed by certain ideas of consciousness and not constrained by the super-ego or the so-called "censorship of consciousness".
Surrealists seek to liberate the "ego", repressed by reality. This art is meant to give a person the opportunity to master their inner essence they know nothing about. The same "father" of Surrealism Breton said that there was nowhere to escape from the oppressive reality, except in childhood, dream and fantasy. It is also worth noting that art wasn’t the only sphere of activity of the Surrealists — they wanted to change life.
By the way, René Magritte was negative about psychoanalysis in art. Unlike in the works by other Surrealists, objects on his canvases do not lose their usual form and qualities. The artists' works can be called philosophical and poetic since his goal was to make the audience think. Often below ordinary things, the author wrote "This is not [the name of the thing]," thus turning the painting into a puzzle, which is completely impossible to solve.