Chicago Surrealist Group  

From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search

Related e



The Chicago Surrealist Group was founded in Chicago, Illinois in July, 1966 by Franklin and Penelope Rosemont after a 1965 trip to Paris, during which they had been in contact with André Breton. Its initial members came from radical left-wing or anarchist backgrounds and had already participated in groups such as the IWW (calling themselves the Rebel Worker Group and putting out a magazine called the Rebel Worker) and SDS; indeed, the Chicago group edited an issue of Radical America, the SDS journal, and the SDS printshop printed some of the group's first publications.

Collaborations and projects

The group played a major role in organizing the World Surrealist Exhibition held at Gallery Black Swan in Chicago in 1976. As the name suggests, broader in scope than previous "international" exhibitions, it featured hundreds of works almost exclusively from contemporary participants in surrealism from thirty-one countries.

Marvelous Freedom/Vigilance of Desire was the name for the catalogue of the 1976 World Surrealist Exhibition. It contains a number of texts and reproductions, as well as a blueprint of the layout of the gallery, with the location of the different "domains" into which the exhibition was organised.

The Chicago Group has also collaborated on the surrealist issue of the journal Race Traitor, and the "Totems Without Taboos" show at the Heartland Cafe in Chicago. It sporadically publishes a newspaper entitled WHAT Are You Going To Do About It? and the journal Arsenal/Surrealist Subversion.

The Surrealist Movement in the United States was started by the Chicago Surrealist Group as a means of including many of its scattered participants from coast to coast on collective statements and in collective activities.

Participants in the group's activities have included Clarence John Laughlin, Gerome Kamrowski and Philip Lamantia. As participants past and present have been based in cities other than Chicago, the group has never been strictly defined by geography, despite its name. The group has worked with others, such as the Stockholm Surrealist Group, with which it met in Chicago and Stockholm in 1986, publishing the International Surrealist Bulletin No. 1.


The Chicago Surrealist Group has been frequently criticised. The Rain Taxi Review of Books once described them as being in "aesthetic stasis" and having an "orthodox interpretation" of surrealism. There are also numerous criticisms and denouncements of the Chicago Surrealist Group included in the reference section Arsenal.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Chicago Surrealist Group" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

Personal tools