This term describes both the aims and methods of surrealism in allowing unconscious images and chance effects to form a work; for example, the use of ink blots by French painter FRANCIS PICABIA (1879-1953).

The principle was adopted by the New York Surrealists of the 1940s and provided the basis for action painting, art informel; and, particularly, a group of seven Canadian artists active in the 1940s who called themselves Les Automatistes.

Surrealist automatism is a method of art-making in which the artist suppresses conscious control over the making process, allowing the unconscious mind to have great sway. Early 20th-century Dadaists, such as Hans Arp, made some use of this method through chance operations. Surrealist artists, most notably André Masson, adapted to art the automatic writing method of André Breton and Philippe Soupault who composed with it Les Champs Magnétiques (The Magnetic Fields) in 1919.[1] The Automatic Message (1933) was one of Breton’s significant theoretical works about automatism.

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