Surrealism Art and Modern Science Relativity Quantum Mechanics Epistemology
written by Gavin Parkinson
Yale University Press | ISBN 9780300098877
Hardback – 256 pages
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During the same period that Surrealism originated and flourished between the wars, great advances were being made in the field of physics. This book offers the first full history, analysis and interpretation of Surrealism's engagement with the Theory of Relativity and quantum mechanics, and its reception of the philosophical consequences of those two major turning points in our understanding of the physical world. Covering mainly the 1920s and 1930s but also extending into the Cold War, Gavin Parkinson opens with a survey of the revolution in physics in the first quarter of the twentieth century with reference to the discoveries of, among others, Max Planck, Niels Bohr, Albert Einstein, Louis de Broglie, Werner Heisenberg, Max Born, Paul Dirac and Erwin Schrodinger, before giving an account through six chapters of the diverse uses of physics - philosophical, political, theoretical, analogical, metaphorical, poetical, literary, pictorial - by individuals in and around the Surrealist group in Paris. Parkinson offers new readings of the art and writings of such key figures of the Surrealist milieu as Andre Breton, Georges Bataille, Salvador Dali, Roger Caillois, Max Ernst, Wolfgang Paalen, Matta, Rene Crevel and Tristan Tzara. The context of modern physics also enables a new exploration of where Surrealism stood in larger scientific and philosophical debates of the 1920s and 1930s. This groundbreaking and exhilarating book will transform our understanding of Surrealism and will be of immense value to anyone interested in questions around art and science.