JCM312/The Avant-Garde (Discussion)

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  1. Group 1: Why were surrealists obsessed with dreams and the insane? What does Robert Hughes mean when he characterizes "neurosis" as "the permanent involuntary form of dreams"?
  2. Group 2: René Magritte's The Treason of Images (1928-9) contains the phrase, "Ceci n'est pas une pipe" ("This is not a pipe"). What does Hughes feel is the significance of this phrase?
  3. Group 3: How does Hughes characterize the surrealist use of sexuality?
  4. Group 4: What previously dismissed forms of art (what Hughes calls, "kinds of expression") did surrealists advocate for? Why?
  5. What elements of surrealism do you see in these films? Cite specific elements from the film.
    • Groups 1 and 5: Entr'Acte (Clair, 1924)
    • Groups 2 and 4: Un Chien Andalou (Buñuel/Dalí, 1928)
    • Groups 3: Zero for Conduct (Vigo, 1933)
  6. All groups: Hughes maintains that "The [surrealist] object was collage in three dimensions" (p. 241). What do you think he means by this? (Meret Oppenheim's Luncheon in Fur is one example.)


  • Hughes, Robert. The Shock of the New. NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 1980.

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