From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Dream art is any form of art directly based on material from dreams, or which employs dream-like imagery. Famous examples in the visual arts include Poem of the Soul, Nightmare (1854) by Louis Janmot, Jacob's Ladder (c. 1800) by William Blake, The Nightmare (1781) by Henry Fuseli and The Sleep of Reason (1799) by Goya.
References to dreams in art are as old as literature itself: the story of Gilgamesh, the Bible, and the Iliad all describe dreams of major characters such as Callum and the meanings thereof. However, dreams as art, without a "real" frame story, appear to be a later development—though there is no way to know whether many premodern works were dream-based.
In European literature, the Romantic movement emphasized the value of emotion and irrational inspiration. "Visions", whether from dreams or intoxication, served as raw material and were taken to represent the artist's highest creative potential.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Symbolism and Expressionism introduced dream imagery into visual art. Expressionism was also a literary movement, and included the later work of the playwright August Strindberg, who coined the term "dream play" for a style of narrative that did not distinguish between fantasy and reality.
At the same time, discussion of dreams reached a new level of public awareness in the Western world due to the work of Sigmund Freud, who introduced the notion of the subconscious mind as a field of scientific inquiry. Freud greatly influenced the 20th-century Surrealists, who combined the visionary impulses of Romantics and Expressionists with a focus on the unconscious as a creative tool, and an assumption that apparently irrational content could contain significant meaning, perhaps more so than rational content.
The invention of film and animation brought new possibilities for vivid depiction of nonrealistic events, but films consisting entirely of dream imagery have remained an avant-garde rarity. Comic books and comic strips have explored dreams somewhat more often, starting with Winsor McCay's popular newspaper strips; the trend toward confessional works in alternative comics of the 1980s saw a proliferation of artists drawing their own dreams.
Dream material continues to be used by a wide range of contemporary artists for various purposes. This practice is considered by some to be of psychological value for the artist—independent of the artistic value of the results—as part of the discipline of "dream work".
Notable works directly based on dreams
- Many works of William Blake (1757-1827)
- Many works of Salvador Dalí (1904-1989)
- Many works of Odilon Redon (1840-1916)
- The Dream of Hecuba is a fresco by Giulio Romano at the Palazzo del Te.
- Allegory of Life (The Dream of Raphael) is an engraving by Giorgio Ghisi
- Vision of a Knight (Raphael)
- Poem of the Soul, Nightmare (1854) by Louis Janmot
- Jacob's Ladder (c. 1800) by William Blake
- The Nightmare (1781) by Henry Fuseli
- The Sleep of Reason (1799) by Goya.
- "Kubla Khan" (1816) by Samuel Taylor Coleridge (possibly based on a dream provoked by opium)
- Frankenstein (1818) by Mary Shelley
- The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886) by Robert Louis Stevenson
- The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath (1927) and other works by H. P. Lovecraft
- The Art of Dreaming (1993) ISBN 0-06-092554-X Carlos Castaneda
- The Facts of Winter (2005) by Paul LaFarge
- Most of Clive Barker's work
- The Alphabet by David Lynch
- The Brother from Another Planet by John Sayles
- Dreams (1990) by Akira Kurosawa
- Many works of Federico Fellini (1920-1993)
- Meshes of the Afternoon (1943), At Land (1944), and Ritual in Transfigured Time (1946) by Maya Deren.
- Waking Life (2001) by Richard Linklater
- Science of Sleep (2006) by Michel Gondry
- Many short works of Julie Doucet
- Many short works of David B.
- Jim by Jim Woodring
- Psychonaut by Aleksandar Zograf
- Rare Bit Fiends by Rick Veitch
- Slow Wave by Jesse Reklaw
- Devil's Trill Sonata by Giuseppe Tartini
- Selected Ambient Works Volume II by Aphex Twin
- Yesterday by Paul McCartney
Works intended to resemble dreams, but not directly based on them
- Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (1865)
- The Nightmare has Triplets trilogy by James Branch Cabell
- Smirt: An Urbane Nightmare (1934)
- Smith: A Sylvan Interlude (1934)
- Smire: An Acceptance in the Third Person (1937)
- Most of the works of Franz Kafka
- A Dream Play (1901) and other plays by August Strindberg during his Symbolist and Expressionist periods
- Un chien andalou (1927) by Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí (actually started when Buñuel and Dali discussed their dreams, then decided to start with two of them and make a film)
- Many films by Maya Deren (1917-1961)
- Many films by David Lynch, especially Eraserhead and Mulholland Drive, contain dreamlike elements.
- Dream scenes are popular in many horror movies, notably the Nightmare on Elm Street series
- The Trial by Orson Welles (based the novel by Franz Kafka)
- Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind features around witnessing the effects of having one's memory erased through dreaming.
- The Science of Sleep (2006) by Michel Gondry
- Dreams of a Rarebit Fiend (1904-1921) and Little Nemo (1905-1913) by Winsor McCay (also his animated films)
- The Sandman (DC Comics/Vertigo) by Neil Gaiman
- Many works of Milo Manara