Surrealism and Philosophy

With the Tate Galleries showcasing a pair of exhibitions dedicated to two of its most cherished exponents this summer, Surrealism is back. The truth is, it never went anywhere. Ever since it was unleashed by the influential French poet Guillaume Apollinaire – perhaps from somewhere deep in our collective unconscious – the term Surreal has paradoxically become a common part of our everyday language.

The wild geometries and rural Catalonian landscapes of the painter Joan Miró hang currently on the walls at the Tate Modern in London, and Tate Liverpool are expecting an abundance of bowler hats, blue skies and pipes imminently for their René Magritte exhibition in June. Ahead of these events, however, one blogger reminds us that far from originating with figures like Miró and Magritte, or even André Breton, author of the Surrealist Manifesto and self-styled leader of the Surrealist group, the ethos of the surreal had been in the air of the art world from as early as 1860. The French Symbolist painter Gustave Moreau is highlighted as a particularly strong precursory example. (In fact, something of the surreal aesthetic occurs as far back as the mid-1500s, in the unique work of the Italian painter Giuseppe Arcimboldo). Continue reading “Surrealism and Philosophy”

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Owls and Rave Music

Minerva
Minerva

Sorry to make it two in two on Simon Reynolds but something else struck me when writing my previous post. A recent grenade in certain parts of the blogosphere has been his concept of a “hardcore continuum”, the theory of a strand of music stretching from breakbeat hardcore in the early nineties, through jungle and garage to dubstep and grime in the noughties. Reynolds writes in his introduction to his seminal series of articles in The Wire that “it was only in 1999…that I really became conscious that for several years I’d been documenting a continuum of musical culture that emerged out of the British rave scene”. In doing so he makes explicit something that lately seems to have slipped his mind: that it is only after something has happened that we can begin to understand it. This is what Hegel meant when he said that “the owl of Minerva spreads its wings only with the falling of dusk” – we can only understand a particular historical (or social or cultural) moment once it has passed. Continue reading “Owls and Rave Music”