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Surrealism, photography and the periodical press: an investigation into the use of photography in surrealist publications (1924 - 1969) with specific reference to themes of sexuality and their interaction with commercial photographic images of the period

Northumbria University
Publication Date
  • V300 History By Topic
  • W600 Cinematics And Photography
  • Communication
  • Linguistics
  • Philosophy
  • Political Science


This thesis examines the use of photographs in surrealist publications in Paris between 1924 and 1969, analysing how images functioned both in relation to surrealism and a wider cultural, social and political context. The thesis contends that developments in the illustrated press had a substantial impact on surrealist publications and that commercial photographic practices were both exploited and subverted by the group. I defend this assertion by demonstrating how photographers associated with the surrealist movement in its formative years, were closely involved in the process by which the photographic image became a major means of communication. I argue that the surrealists were conscious that photography was central to the circulation of ideas and developed a radical notion of the illustration of text. The thesis examines how photographs used in surrealist publications were integrated into the complex surrealist project and how due to the currency in images in society, the medium offered opportunities for disruption. In each of the five chapters I examine the surrealist deployment of photographic images to articulate cultural and political radicalism. The thesis argues that the photographs published by the surrealists made an important contribution to contemporary discourse on sexuality This thesis makes an original contribution to knowledge as it expands the understanding of photographs published by the surrealist group by exploring their relationship to contemporary commercial images circulating in the press. It analyses works that have been marginalised, many of the images in the first two journals in the inter war period, the images in the illustrated books 1929, Banalité, Le septième face du dé and the images in the post war journals have been neglected as subjects of study.

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