Gallery of surrealist tattoos that can be filtered by subject, body part and size.read more
Surrealism style consists of exaggerated and imaginary images, mashed up styles, and fantastical creations that couldn't actually exist in real life, but look like they could.
Surrealism combines dreams with reality, following some but not all of the real world laws or physics. Surrealists often put realistic characters in illogical or impossible circumstances.
Following the first World War in Europe and America, artists and modern psychologists began to study “shell shock” and PTSD, where mass trauma triggered many people to simultaneously experience reality in a different way from their peers. This shift in philosophy resulted in a more widespread acceptance of a person’s cognitive dissonance with reality.
In this way, Surrealism is regarded as a social and cultural revolution, pushing for the human imagination to have the right to alter what is “true” or “real.”
Politically, early Surrealists were split between Marxist and anarchist ideologies. Manifestos by rivaling Surrealists emerged during this time, touting the philosophical necessity of abandoning reason when confronting reality. Communists, such as Surrealist leader Andre Breton of France, tended to take the collective experience of the proletariat and represent it in a way that rejected bourgeois ideals. Anarchists, on the other hand, advocated for complete chaos, not prioritizing any one group’s assertion of reality.
The Golden Age of Surrealism immediately preceded WWII, with artists like Salvador Dali and Marcel Duchamp entering the movement. During this time, the creative focus was largely on the experience of the individual’s psychological inner world. New developments in photography also allowed for new conversations about how to physically represent “reality.”
WWII and Post-War periods returned to a strong presence of global politics in surrealist art. Some Golden Age Surrealists also abandoned the movement and joined other contemporary art movements. As a result, there was a lot of aesthetic and conceptual overlap between Post-War Surrealism and Cubism or Expressionism.
Contemporary Surrealist tattooers sometimes adapt from masters, but also often keep the aesthetic traditions alive with their own voices and original works of art.