Surrealism in American Art and American Surrealist Artists



This section of the Traditional Fine Arts Organization (TFAO) catalogue Topics in American Art is devoted to the topic "Surrealism in American Art and American Surrealist Artists." Articles and essays specific to this topic published in TFAO's Resource Library are listed at the beginning of the section. Clicking on titles takes readers directly to these articles and essays. The date at the end of each title is the Resource Library publication date.

After articles and essays from Resource Library are links to valuable online resources found outside our website. Links may be to museums' articles about exhibits, plus much more topical information based on our online searches. Following online resources may be information about offline resources including museums, DVDs, and paper-printed books, journals and articles.

We recommend that readers search within the TFAO website to find detailed information for any topic. Please see our page How to research topics not listed for more information.


Articles and essays from Resource Library in chronological order:

Lawrence Tarpey: Figures & Ground (6/27/16)

Arshile Gorky: A Retrospective (11/16/09)

David Michael Bowers: Humanity Unveiled (3/26/09)

Dark Metropolis: Irving Norman's Social Surrealism (1/31/07)

Dark Metropolis: Irving Norman's Social Surrealism (8/25/06)

Surrealism USA (3/21/05)

Lost Identities: Surrealist Works of Jo Owens Murray and Clifford Lamoree, with essays by Graziella Marchicelli (4/29/03)

Surrealism in America During the 1930s and 1940s: Selections from the Penny and Elton Yasuna Collection (12/18/99)

Edward Weston, Photography and Modernism (5/15/99)


From other websites:

Arghavan Khosravi is a 2022 exhibit at the Currier Museum of Art which says: "Arghavan Khosravi creates surrealist paintings that explore themes of exile, freedom, and empowerment....Khosravi draws on several cross-cultural stylistic influences, from ancient Western sculpture to the posturing of contemporary fashion magazines to the compressed perspective of Persian miniature painting. Often using printed textiles from Iran as her canvas, she weaves the patterning of these materials into the narrative of her work." Also see the website of the artist. Accessed 11/22

"American Surrealism and View Magazine," essay by Andrew Otwell, 1996, from Histories and Theories of Intermedia blog. Accessed August, 2015.

Art of John Patrick Kelly is a 2016 exhibit at the Coral Springs Museum of Art which says: "Patrick's surrealistic oils combine fantasy, eroticism, humor, and a deep, esoteric understanding of life into a visual potpourri that leaves a lasting impression on most viewers." Accessed 10/18  

Bob Coonts: Art & Influence is a 2016 exhibit at the Fort Collins Museum of Art which says: "Coonts chooses bold, expressive color within his art and makes his subjects come alive through this intuitive use of non-realistic color. His subject matter mostly consists of animals, landscapes and abstract compositions and mythology, nature, Native American, Celtic, Asian, Middle Eastern, Greek and Roman art are strong influences in his work." Also see artist's website. Accessed 3/17

Chuck Connelly: My America is a 2014-15 exhibit at the Andy Warhol Museum which says: "His subjects have varied widely from religious imagery to cosmic visions, landscapes, portraits, domestic interiors, and Victorian homes from his neighborhood in East Oak Lane, Philadelphia. In spite of such a varied career, Connelly's penchant for the surreal and fantastic have remained constant." Also see the artist's website. Accessed 3/17

Collection Close-Up: The Graphic Work of Dorothea Tanning is a 2019 exhibit at the Menil Collection which says: "These prints and illustrated books feature images that range from representation to near total abstraction, demonstrating the breadth of Tanning's formal innovation. Experimenting with lithography, etching, and aquatint, Tanning produced a variety of surface textures, some crystalline, others cloud-like." Also see 7/25/19 article in Houston Chronicle Accessed 11/19

Gordon Onslow Ford: Voyager and Visionary, an exhibit held February 11 - May 13, 2012 at the Mint Museum. Includes Mintwiki with exhibit brochure, audio tour and video. Accessed March, 2015.

Inka Essenhigh: A Fine Line is a 2018 exhibit at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts which says: "Inka Essenhigh's surreal dream worlds are like fairy tales that challenge the imagination."  Also see artist's website. Accessed 10/18

Internal Landscapes: The Mysterious World of Steven Kenny is a 2018 exhibit at the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art which says: "Focusing on the beauty and mystery of the natural world, Steven Kenny's paintings illuminate the bonds between humans and nature through a surrealist context."  Also see artist's website  Accessed 2/18

Invented Worlds of Valton Tyler is a 2017 exhibit at the Amon Carter Museum which says: "For more than forty years, Texas artist Valton Tyler (b. 1944) has depicted unparalleled worlds from his imagination. His captivating artworks feature unique interplays of identifiable, organic, mechanistic, and surreal shapes, which often rise from mountain, desert, or arctic landscapes." Also see 4/5/11 article in The Brooklyn Rail. Accessed 3/17

Jim Woodring: The Pig Went Down to the Harbor at Sunrise and Wept is a 2017 exhibit at the Frye Art Museum which says: "Woodring renders swirling amalgamations of phantasmagorical creatures and organic matter, avoiding recognizable characters and narratives. In doing so, the artist delves deeper into the surreal and fantastical universe that is central to his greater project." Also see artist's website. Accessed 3/17

Joseph Cornell / Matrix 30 is a 1980 exhibit at the Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive which says: "This current MATRIX unit focuses on an early period in his career, 1930-1940, in which Cornell's links to modernism, specifically Surrealism, are clearly seen. Cornell adapted many of the ideas and techniques of Surrealism to his own sensibility, creating a body of work that remains one of the most unique American Extensions of this European movement." Assemblage artist. Accessed 3/17

Joseph Cornell and Surrealism, an exhibit held March 7 - June 8, 2014 at the Fralin Museum of Art. Accessed January, 2016.

Julie Speed: East of the Sun and West of the Moon is a 2019 exhibit at the Taubman Museum of Art which says: "Sometimes described as neo-surrealist, Speed's art holds affinity with the figurative Surrealism of René Magritte, yet her work offers scenarios that are simultaneously more personal and more complex than Magritte's visual puns."  Also see artist's website  Accessed 3/20

Kate Eric: One Plus One Minus One, an exhibit held June 26 to December 31, 2011 at the Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art. Accessed August, 2015.

Lamar Baker (1908 - 1994) Selected Works on Paper was an exhibit held July 23, 2016 - January 29, 2017 at the Columbus Museum - Georgia. The museum says: "One of the many important artists to work in Columbus, Lamar Baker is best known for his vivid, frequently surrealist, depictions of Southern life. An Atlanta native, Baker moved to New York in 1935 to work and study, returning to Georgia to spend summers with family in Waverly Hall. During his years in New York, Southern life and scenery remained the focus of his art." Accessed August, 2016.

Lezley Saar: Salon des Refusés is a 2017 exhibit at the California African American Museum which says: "Salon des Refusés (Salon of the Rejected) includes three of Saar's most recent bodies of work: Madwoman in the Attic/Madness and the Gaze, Monad, and Gender Renaissance, along with a selection of early altered books that show the origins of the artist's interest in literature, mixed media, and marginalized figures."  Accessed 12/17

Marcos Raya - Night Train is a 2017 exhibit at the Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art which says: "Chicago artist Marcos Raya has a long, established career and a varied practice, with topics that range from futurism and surrealism, to social, sexual and political commentary." Also see entry in Wikipedia    Accessed 8/17

Matthew Barnes And The World Of Night  is a 2019 exhibit at the Oceanside Museum of Art which says: "Once San Francisco's best-known modernist and avidly collected by East Coast patrons, Matthew Barnes is enjoying recognition again after languishing in obscurity since his death in 1951 thanks to the current vogue for dark Surrealism." Accessed 4/19

Morgan Bulkeley: Nature Culture Clash is a 2017 exhibit at the Berkshire Museum which says: "Humorous and ominous at the same time, Morgan Bulkeley's active, engrossing images offer compelling scenarios where humans are pitted against nature, with nature holding the advantage." Also see artist's website  Accessed 11/17


Go to From other websites, page two


(above:  Man Ray, Le Violon d'Ingres (Ingres's Violin), 1924, photograph. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons*)


DVD/VHS videos:

Irving Norman: To Whom It May Concern, a 27-minute documentary film by Susan Friedman.

Man Ray: Prophet of the Avant-Garde. This 60 minute 1997 Jackson Frost American Masters program looks at one of the most important artistic voices of the American modernist movement. Photographer, painter, filmmaker, poet, essayist and philosopher Man Ray brought innovation to every field he worked in, leaving behind a legacy of true genius. This program traces the artist's legacy from his beginnings in New York to his achievements in Paris and finally, to the impact his work left for future generations in a variety of fields The video also includes a previously unseen filmed interview found in the vaults of a Rotterdam museum and long-lost drawings from the artist's student days not seen since 1908. VHS/DVD. DVD includes extra Man Ray short films. See a trailer [01:31] via I. MDb. Accessed August, 2015.

View a video named similarly to Man Ray: Prophet of the Avant-Gard with Mel Sturat and Molly Barnes [28:01]. [Link found to be expired as of 2015 audit. TFAO is saving the citation for use by researchers.]

Voyage of the Tin Man, T.L. Solien is a 30-minute video on the art of T.L. Solien who has received increasing national attention for his surreal, highly personal visions of the world. Drawing upon the struggles of daily life, the landscape and his imagination, Solien's work is interesting and full of surprise (quote courtesy Plains Art Msueum)

TFAO does not maintain a lending library of videos or sell videos. Click here for information on how to borrow or purchase copies of VHS videos and DVDs listed in TFAO's Videos -DVD/VHS, an authoritative guide to videos in VHS and DVD format.



Surrealism USA (exh. cat.). Isabelle Dervaux et al. New York and Germany: National Academy Museum and Hatje Cantz Publishers, 2005.

A boatload of madmen surrealism and the American avant-garde, 1920-1950. Dickran Tashjian. New York, NY : Thames and Hudson, 2001.

Surrealism and American art, 1931-1947 : Rutgers University Art Gallery, March 5-April 24, 1977. Jeffrey Wechsler, with collaboration and an introductory essay by Jack J. Spector. New Brunswick, N.J. : Rutgers, 1976.

Abstract & surrealist art in America New York, 1896-1989. Janis Sidney. Arno Press, 1969.

Surrealism in exile and the beginning of the New York school. Martica Sawin. Cambridge, Mass. : MIT Press, 1995.

Pacific dreams: currents of surrealism and fantasy in California art, 1934-1957. Edited by Susan Ehrlich. Los Angeles : UCLA at the Armand Hammer Museum of Art and Cultural Center, c1995.

Dada, Surrealism, and Their Heritage. William S. Rubin. New York, The Museum of Modern Art, 1968


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