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The Lives of the Surrealists

The Lives of the Surrealists

by Desmond Morris
Publication Date: 26/08/2021

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No other art movement in history has contained two artists as different as Magritte and Miro. This is because Surrealism was not in origin an art movement, but a philosophical strategy.

It was a way of life - a rebellion against the establishment that had given the world the hideous slaughter of the First World War. Instead of trying to analyse the work of the Surrealists, bestselling author and Surrealist artist Desmond Morris concentrates on them as people - as remarkable individuals. What were their personalities, their predilections, their character strengths and flaws? Did they enjoy a social life or were they loners? Were they bold eccentrics or timid recluses?

Drawing on the author's personal knowledge of the Surrealists, this book captures their life histories, idiosyncrasies and often-complex love lives, vividly illustrated with images of the artists and their works. The arts of Surrealism were both spectacular and international, shaped by the darkest, most irrational workings of the unconscious. Shocking, witty and always entertaining, Morris's tales illuminate the striking variation in approaches to the Surrealist philosophy, both in the artists' work and in their lives.

With 72 illustrations

Art & design styles: Surrealism & Dada
Publication Date:
Thames & Hudson Ltd
Country of origin:
United Kingdom
Dimensions (mm):
Desmond Morris

Desmond Morris (b. January 24, 1928) is a zoologist and ethnologist, who rose to fame in 1967 when he published The Naked Ape. He earned an undergraduate degree at the University of Birmingham, and then a Ph.D. at Oxford University.

In the 1960s, his TV show Zoo Time for ITV drew a wide audience of British viewers. His work includes that as curator of the mammal section in the London Zoo. His research focuses on animal and human behaviour explained from a sociobiological and zoological point of view.

He has authored many books, and has produced and curated a series of popular science TV programs. Morris is also famous for his painting, significantly contributing to the British Surrealist movement. His first one-man exhibition took place in 1948, and since then he has never stopped showing his art, his work often being compared to that of Miró.

In 1957 he curated an exhibition of paintings and drawings made by chimpanzees at the Institute of Contemporary Art Institute in London. Desmond Morris has always been a great football fan, and was technical director of the Oxford United Football Club from 1977 to 1984. He is still actively involved in broadcasting, painting, and soccer.

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