Bill Brandt created a varied series of work throughout his life from Portraits, Social Documentary (see Mass Observation) to strange surreal images.
In these above images Brandt has used a maximum depth of field to create Surreal images. He has played with foreshortening to place an ear on the same visual plane as a Sussex beach. In these images fingers become rocks and Brandt reflects himself in a mirror.
Rene Magritte was a surrealist painter and his images share qualities with this series from Brandt. The Surrealists were interested in the world of the unconscious and dreams. In dreams the everyday mixes and creates strange juxtapositions.
Most of us have seen rain and we have seen men in suites (Magritte used these figures as short hand for the bourgeois) – they are fairly everyday. In dreams our it could rain business men - as in this above painting by Magritte. These are the kind of Juxtapositions the Surrealists like to play with.
Above is a portrait of Magritte by Brandt that incorporates elements of both artists work.
Rene Magritte 'The Explanation' 1954
Renne Magritte 'le modele rouge' 1935These images by Magritte show how he would juxtapose two images to create a new strange image. A carrot becomes a bottle or shoes become feet. Magritte was a Surrealist who were interested in dreams and the unconscious. In a dream you will combine everyday things but by combining them they become strange. You may dream of a hat or a piece of cheese - both very ordinary. However, in your dream they appear to you as a hat made out of cheese - this is an element of surrealism.
This is a photograph of Salvador Dalí's 'Téléphone-homard (Lobster Telephone)', 1938. Dali was a Surrealist and one of the key themes of Surrealism was the unconscious mind. They were fascinated by dreams and the juxtapositions that occur in them. Often in a dream we combine everyday things to create something new and strange. We have all seen a plastic lobster and we have all seen a telephone but by combining them together Dali has created something Surreal. The surreal look has slowly merged with popular culture and many adverts today have a surreal quality. Surrealism is now the norm.
This is a still from the 1928 film 'The Andalusian dog' that Dali was involved with (see MOMA exhibition). There is a clever juxtaposition between moving images, most famously the section where an eye is slit but at the key moment the camera jumps to a cloud passing a moon and then to a false eye. Although mild by today's standards the film is still able to shock.
These images are by one of Dada's founding members, Raoul Hausmann, who claimed he invented Photomontage (for more on Photomontage look here and for more on Collage look here). The top image is actually a collage that mixes different printed emphemeria to create a jarring image. This image was created almost a hundred years ago and to Hausmann's contemporarys would have seemed raw and ugly. This busy, hectic visual language is common place today but it would not exist without the experiments of these early 20th century artists.