Veristic surrealism is a style of surrealistic art which is designed to portray the dream world in rich detail. One of the more famous veristic surrealists was Salvador Dali, who painted ornate scenes of melting clocks, fantastical creatures, and other elements. The style is often marked by strangely veristic, meaning realistic, painting which seems to draw the viewer into a fantasy world that has no connection with reality.
Surrealism began in the early twentieth century, and included literature, art, and performance. The surrealists were trying to portray the unconscious, and to take viewers away from the horrors of the modern world, exemplified by the First World War. In 1924, Andre Breton, one of the founding fathers of the surrealist movement, described the art form as portraying “an ultimate reality.” Breton believed that by bringing the unconscious into art, people could be provoked into thought and discussion about the world around them.
Surrealism expresses itself in many forms, and veristic surrealism is one of the most famous. People who do not study art history still recognize veristic surrealism, with its distinctive realistic portrayal of unreal or fantasy scenes. This type of surrealism brings the viewer face to face with the fantasy world of the painter, and the artist tries not to filter the scene through his or her conscious mind. This means that the viewer is truly seeing into the dreams of the artist, and can interpret the work as he or she wishes.
This is a marked difference from other types of surrealism, which are often filtered through the conscious mind to create a specific structured image or to provoke a particular thought. The artist has already interpreted the work, and presents it to the viewer like an already completed story. Veristic surrealism allows the viewer to imagine the story on his or her own, and to glimpse the inner world of the artist.
Within veristic surrealism, there are a variety of painting and narrative styles. Some artists have fantastic drawings which juxtapose strange objects, sometimes in very ordinary settings. Magritte perfected this sort of surrealism, offering very plain, stark work which interposed items or ideas that clearly clashed with each other. Magritte's work did not often include fantasy creations, but rather used everyday things out of context. Other members of this school went to the opposite extreme and created entirely imaginary dream worlds with their art, which combined elements of fantasy and mysticism.