The Lives of the Surrealists (Paperback)

The Lives of the Surrealists By Desmond Morris Cover Image

The Lives of the Surrealists (Paperback)

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A lively history of the Surrealists, both known and unknown, by one of the last surviving members of the movement—artist and bestselling author Desmond Morris.


Surrealism did not begin as an art movement but as a philosophical strategy, a way of life, and a rebellion against the establishment that gave rise to the World War I. In The Lives of the Surrealists, surrealist artist and celebrated writer Desmond Morris concentrates on the artists as people—as remarkable individuals. What were their personalities, their predilections, their character strengths and flaws?


Unlike the impressionists or the cubists, the surrealists did not obey a fixed visual code, but rather the rules of surrealist philosophy: work from the unconscious, letting your darkest, most irrational thoughts well up and shape your art. An artist himself, and contemporary of the later surrealists, Morris illuminates the considerable variation in each artist’s approach to this technique. While some were out-and-out surrealists in all they did, others lived more orthodox lives and only became surrealists at the easel or in the studio.


Focusing on the thirty-two artists most closely associated with the surrealist movement, Morris lends context to their life histories with narratives of their idiosyncrasies and their often complex love lives, alongside photos of the artists and their work.



Desmond Morris is a zoologist, ethnologist, and painter. He is the bestselling author of The Naked Ape: A Zoologist’s Study of the Human Animal, The Human Zoo: A Zoologist’s Classic Study of the Urban Animal, Manwatching: A Field Guide to Human Behavior, Bodytalk: A World Guide to Gestures, The Artistic Ape: Three Million Years of Art, and The Lives of the Surrealists.
Product Details ISBN: 9780500296370
ISBN-10: 0500296375
Publisher: Thames & Hudson
Publication Date: February 8th, 2022
Pages: 272
Language: English
An ideal introduction to the rebellious
art movement.
— Kirkus Reviews

Engaging, informative . . . a series of
brief, chatty biographies of 32 artists,
ranging from superstars such as Breton,
Dali´, Magritte and Miró to obscure figures such as Wilhelm Freddie and
Conroy Maddox [that’s] both witty and
systematic.
— Wall Street Journal