Magic Realism

What is Magic Realism

          To define Magic Realism as it applies to art is both a challenging and an elusive task. Anyone who embarks on an exploration of this topic will soon experience feelings of disorientation, confusion or even delirium. A veritable jungle of references exist for Magic Realism, but most of the roadmaps charted in its formative period are outdated. Many trails remain unexplored, while others have long ago been overgrown.

     If Magic Realism exists between the two poles of realism (north) and pure fantasy (south). We might begin searching for it it somewhere near the Equator. To find our way, we will need to invent a metaphysical compass. The ingredients required for this compass must include artistic sensibility, acute powers of observation. and knowledge of the traditions of art history. In art, we will discover most works in the Northern Hemisphere, typified by cool, detached compositions, pregnant with metaphors and hidden meanings. In literature most works will be found south of the Equator, rich in the mythical and the fantastic.

      Magic Realism began to appear in Weimar Republic of Germany around 1920. Its technical roots can be found in the sharp focus realistic styles as seen in paintings of the early Flemish, German and Italian Renaissances. The subject matter of each Magic Realism work includes both commonplace objects and fantastic elements drawn from the artist's imagination, interwoven into a magical fabric. The Magic Realists drew inspiration from the naive art of Henri Rousseau and the metaphysical paintings of Giorgio de Chirico. It should be noted that Magic Realism was the first movement of art to combine fantasy with everyday reality. Fantasy prior to this time had mainly been the realm of the mythological or sometimes of religious subject matter.

      The dominant style of art Germany during the twenties is referred to as Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity). Magic Realism occured when Das Unheimliche (the uncanny) combined with the realism of Neue Sachlichkeit. In the second half of this decade, many artists recognized the trend and added enigmatic elements to their art. The movement soon spread to other European countries and also to the Americas.

     Magic Realism may be difficult to define, but it is much easier to survey. We have therefore compiled a Time Capsule, so to speak, of typical works, chronologically arranged. We invite you to peruse this gallery and hope that it will provide a better understanding of Magic Realism, the movement in art.

 Magic Realism Time Capsule