A summary of the origins of Suridealism. A movement you’ve likely not heard of.
Suridealism is a term used to describe fine art and literary art movements from the early 20th century.
Emile Malespine (1892 – 1952) coined the term in 1925 in the magazine publication, Manometre. In his Manifesto Du Suridealisme, Malespine in part states, “Idea, ideal: Suridealism is both of these things at the same time; the idea is mixed with the word and becomes an image.” And “conscious and unconscious: these two terms must be identified in a higher idealized term. Suridealism will therefore be, in its most general expression, a consciousness awakened by unconsciousness, and this consciousness, in turn, modifies the subconsciousness.”[i]
Malespine lists the following artists as Suridealists:
Hans Arp; Andre Desson; Marcel Arland; Maples Arce; Victor Brauner ; Giuseppe Leonardi ; Celine Arnauld ; Sofronio Pocarini ; F. L. Bernardez ; Nore Brunel; J. L. Borges; Bourgeois; Tilly Brugman; Rogelio Buendia; Giorgio Carmelich; Julio Casal; Alvaro Cebreiro; Serge Charchoune; Paul Dermee; Maurice Casteels; Arthur Petronio; Emile Didier; Robert Delaunay; Joseph Delteil; Karl Teige; Van Doesburg ; Edwards; Marcel Raval; Hans Richter; Ivan Goll; Gino Gori; Fernant Berckelaers; Jozef Peeters; Vincent Huidobro; Louis Kassak; Jacques Laplace ; Pierre Laurent; Emile Malespine; Marius Riollet; Lissitzki; Georges Linze; Marinetti; Kurt Schwitters ; Hannes Meyer; Moholy-Nagy; Enrico Prampolini; Jean Hytier; Vinicio Paladini; Thadee Peiper; Paul Nouge; Benjamin Peret ; Jules Roblin; Correa-Calderon ; Ramon Gomez De La Serna; Louis Thomas ; Tristan Tzara; Isaac Del Vando Villar; Vasari; Alberto Vianello; Victor Servrankx; Ilia Zdanevitch.
Suridealism was also used to describe a literary movement in 1927 by the novelist Maryse Choisy.[ii] The movement had a feminist objective and countered the male-dominated Surrealist movement and wanted to expand upon the novel genre of fiction writing.
Choisy initially claimed to have coined the term; however, that is countered by Malespine in his July 1928 Der Sturm article entitled “Proteste.” Malespine writes contesting Choisy being the founder of Suridealism and rightfully defends his claim that he was the first to use and define the term.[iii] The tone in his article is stern, and he speaks harshly against the Parisian artists who he says think they are better than all others, even to the point they can stake a claim on a term that was already invented. Malespine claims Choisy invited him to join her movement, which he publicly refuses, having already created the movement.
In Choisy’s description of the Suridealist movement, she says, “Women are often criticized for being conservative, for being incapable of creating or even following the avant-garde movements. It is up to a few creative women painters and talented musicians to prove otherwise. A Suridealist group of under 30s has just been founded, which has gathered the most important names among the rising generation.”
Choisy continues, “Our century is the century of youth. But it is also the century of women. The purely masculine civilization is a failure. It is up to the woman to set the tone, which does not mean that we exclude the man from our songs or from our meetings. We are more generous, more inclusive. There are men in our group and even in our committee. But the crusade of Suridealism is led by women.
Pure intelligence has gone bankrupt. Help will come from the heart. Not from a heavy heart or a heart lush from the senses, but from a heart bursting from emptiness. A Suridealist heart. In the heart vs. intelligence match. Suridealism cheers for the heart.”
In Graphic Arts, the term is used in the French publication, Tambour (1929 – 1930). Author Richard Thoma in his article “Alastair,” describes schools of art in the statement -“It is an error to believe that the Surrealists, the Cubists, the Impressionists, the Futurists, the Symbolists, the Expressionists, the Vorticists, the Pandemoniumists, the Suridealists possess imagination and superhuman powers of interpretation to the exclusion of all other schools of art.”[iv]
In an American publication, the term was first used on April 25th, 1937, in the New York Times. The article labels artist Frank Marvin Blasingame the “suridealist.”[v] Blasingame is the only American painter with this moniker and possibly given without knowing its French origins.
The term was used again on July 17th, 1938, describing Blasingame’s work. Author Edythe Siegal of the Asbury Park Press describes the work as “ultra-modern” and refers to the former April 25th article.[vi] In the same article, Donald Bear, then Director of the Denver Art Museum, says, “The paintings have a great power of spirit. They have a very interesting effect upon me. They are not pictures in the ordinary sense. Rather they appear to be provocative symbols that call up states of imaginative tension.”
Suridealism is again used in 2018 by Antonello Morsillo in his exhibition Il Suridealismo nell’arte (Suridealism in Art). Celeste Network described Morsillo’s exhibition book as “a small treatise on philosophical aesthetics, is completely pervaded by the perception of considering art as an ethical urgency.”[vii]
[i] “Suridéaliste manifesto” Manometer no. 7, February 1925.
[ii] “Manifeste Suridealiste” Les Nouvelles littéraires 22nd October, 1927
[iii] “Proteste” Der Strum, July 1928 page 241 – https://magazines.iaddb.org/issue/DSTURM/1928-07-01/edition/19-4/page/1
[iv] “Alstair” Tambour No. 7. 1930. Salemson, Harold J.. Tambour. United Kingdom, University of Wisconsin Press, 2002.
[v] “FIVE NEW GROUP SHOWS” New York Times, 25th April, 1937 page 172.
[vi] “Suridealist’ Settles Down” Asbury Park Press, 17th July, 1938 page 14.
[vii] “Suridealism in art and Suridealist art as an ethical urgency” Celeste Network 14, November 2018 – https://www.celesteprize.com/eng_artista_news/idu:62838/idn:42227/