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Art Through the Ages

Neither Abstractionism nor Surrealism are a new phenomena. They have been a part of the artist's expression throughout history, along with Realism.

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When artists created formless or geometric designs they were doing Abstraction. When they painted a real object, they were doing Realism. When the artists represented a psychological reality, they were doing symbolic art. In this kind of art, the object stands as a metaphor for an inner reality, as it is the case in poetry and myth. In that sense, sacred scriptures like the Bible, the myths of the world, and the rendering through painting and sculpture of those images, are Surrealism. Those images belong to an inner reality.

As it is evident, Abstraction, Surrealism, and Realism form an unbreakable chain in the history of art. They are an intrinsic part of human expression and are not in any way a modern phenomena.

However, it is true that succeeding civilizations throughout history, have tended to favor one of these forms of expression at the expense of the others. We recognize a preponderance of symbolism in Egyptian, Sumerian, Caldean and Persian art. Realism in Greek and Roman art. Abstraction, as in the oriental mandalas, or Jewish and Islamic art. The type of art favored also reflects the times. There was a preponderance of the symbolic in the Middle Ages when the church dominated.

During the Renaissance, when science began to dominate, the artist took part in the endeavors of "discovery" by doing the first serious research into optical perception, by rediscovering linear perspective and perfecting it, by creating atmospheric perspective, and studying the anatomy of the body. Michelangelo, Raphael and Leonardo da Vinci, refined the science of painting and sculpture by giving us volumes of knowledge to be applied and perfected by future generations of painters. They perfected the science of illusion, bringing three dimensions into two. After its great development through four centuries, Realism experienced a rude collapse with the invention of the camera in the Nineteenth Century. With it, the objective world could be captured faster and more faithfully than by the work of artists.

Art therefore began to study the phenomena of light as the basis of form through impressionism. In their canvasses the image began to melt, and inner reality became again the focus of the artists. With the advent of psychology, a revolution of thought entered the world of creative arts. The symbolic left the church's walls and the pages of mythological narration, to become recognized as the language of the psyche. Surrealism, as we think of it today, was born.

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