Art Movements of 1900s: Massurrealism
Massurrealism is the name given to an art genre characterized by the convergence of surrealism and mass media, including the influence of pop art. The definition was originated in 1992 by American artist, James Seehafer.
Massurrealism is a development of surrealism that emphasizes the effect of technology and mass media on contemporary surrealist imagery. James Seehafer who is credited with coining the term in 1992 said that he was prompted to do so because he had been unable to find a simple explanation to characterise the type of work he was doing, which combined elements of surrealism and mass media, the latter consisting of technology and pop art—”a form of technology art.” He had begun his work by using a shopping cart, which “represented American mass-consumerism that fuels mass-media”, and then incorporated collages of colour photocopies and spray paint with the artist’s traditional medium of oil paint.
In 1995, he assembled a small group show near New York and found a local cyber-cafe, where he started to post material about massurrealism on internet arts news groups, inspiring some German art students to stage a massurrealist show. The next year he started his own web site, www.massurrealism.com and began to receive work from other artists, both mixed media and digitally-generated, “which is massurrealism because of its origins in strict electronics”. He credits the World Wide Web with a major role in communicating massurrealism, which spread to Los Angeles, Mexico and then Europe.
Seehafer has said:
I am not being credited with inventing a new technique, nor I don’t think I should be credited with starting a new art movement, but rather simply coining a word to categorize the type of modern day surrealist art that had been lacking in definition. As a result, word “massurrealism” has received a lot of enthusiasm from artists. Though there are some who feel that defining something essentially limits it, the human condition has always had the need to categorize and classify everything in life.
The differentiating factor, according to Seehafer, between surrealism and massurrealism is the foundation of the former in the early 20th century in Europe before the spread of electronic mass media. It is difficult to define the visual style of massurrealism, though a general characteristic is the use of modern technology to fuse surrealism’s traditional access to the unconscious with pop art’s ironic contradictions.
In 2005, graffiti artist Banksy illicitly hung a rock in the British Museum showing a caveman pushing a shopping cart, which Shelley Esaak of about.com described as “a nice tribute to James Seehafer and Massurrealism.”
Massurrealism has been influenced by the writings and theories of Cecil Touchon, Marshall McLuhan, and Jean Baudrillard.
Alan King, Ginnie Gardiner, and Cecil Touchon are massurrealist artists.
German artist, Melanie Marie Kreuzhof, who describes her work as massurrealistic, was commissioned in 2004 by the editor of the Spectakel Salzburger Festsiele Inside magazine to produce an artwork about Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s opera Die tote Stadt at the Salzburg Festival. To make her work she took 9 digital photographs, composed them in a computer and printed the result directly onto canvas, which was then attached to a wooden frame, worked on with acrylic paint and had objects attached—3 guitar strings, a strand of hair and a silk scarf. The images and elements were derived from themes in the opera.