Surrealism is an art form that came about in the 1920s. The artists that we typically think of as being surrealist artists are the people who created works in that era and became famous for the work that they did. Salvador Dali, Man Ray and Joan Miro are all artists who are well-known for the work that they did in the Surrealist style. Many people name each of them as their favorite artist.
However there are other modern contemporary artists who are still making surrealist art today in the twenty-first century. This art is magical, attention-getting, fantastical, beautiful and fun to look at. The tools that these artists use may differ from those used by the original Surrealist artists but the effect is at least (if not more so) as visually appealing as the work that came from that bygone era.
Take a look at this famous artists list of ten modern artists known for their surrealistic approach to art:
1. Marco Escobedo
I have to confess that the idea for this hub came from a recent Weburbanist article on the artist Marco Escobedo. This was an artist that I hadn't been aware of in spite of the fact that I am a huge fan of surrealist art. When I saw the link to the article on him in my Google Reader, I knew I had to follow it. I was happily rewarded with an exploration of the terrific work of this one amazing artist that I didn't already know. He is a digital artist who takes the tools provided by PhotoShop and turns up the volume to make surrealistic photos that are stunning to behold. He's not working in the same medium as most famous surrealist artists from the past but he's producing work that rivals theirs in both beauty and technical skill. And he is now a favorite artist of mine.
2. George Grie
George Grie is considered a key player in the neo-surrealist movement which is the name for the modern art movement that is based on the original surrealist art from the 1920s. He does digital art in both 2D and 3D formats. Photo-realism is another term frequently associated with this artist. I tend to find a lot of his work to be a bit on the darker side although I wouldn't say that it's truly macabre.
3. Corey Tate
Corey Tate is an artist who works in a variety of different mediums to create works of art that fall into the surrealist category. These mediums not only include multiple types of photography but also range from pen-and-ink drawings to contemporary sound installations. These works of art combine a personal perception of the modern urban world with a collection of images from dreams to create a surrealist set of images. Wow!
4. Kris Kuski
This artist is a multi-media artist who creates really cool three-dimensional products such as artistic toys for kids. Kris Kuksi actually recycles old toys and puts them together to create these new toys that are fantastical, magical, frightening and fun. He also does drawings, paintings and various sculptures. Many of his pieces are dark but he also has some magically light and colorful pieces within his collection of surrealist art. This combination of light and dark makes him a favorite artist of many people.
5. Frank Picini
If the kind of surrealist art that you like verges on the dark and pensive then you'll probably take a liking to modern surrealist artist Frank Picini. The subtitle of his website is "the darkness craves a mind" which tells you what some of the work is all about. He uses a variety of different tech tools to create modern art that gives you a glimpse into the interesting world inside of his mind.
6. Greg Drasler
Looking for something a little bit on the lighter side? One of the best modern artists doing fun-loving, brightly-colored surrealist paintings today is Greg Drasler. His work was discussed a bit in a 1991 New York Times article on seven different modern-day surrealist artists who had participated in a show together. He takes a creative, flirty approach to his work and gives the viewer something to really muse on and appreciate while smiling in front of his canvases.
7. Laurie Lipton
Many of the surrealist artists that get attention are male artists. This was true back in the first era of surrealist art and it remains true today. However there are a lot of female surrealist artists from both then and now. One of the hottest contemporary women in the world of surrealism today is Laurie Lipton. She also stands out as the very first person to graduate with a Fine Arts degree in drawing from Carnegie-Mellon. Her work is done in black and white and her perspective on the world is a strange one that manifests itself well in the form of surrealist art. This surrealist artist is a favorite artist of many women interested in surrealism.
8. Carrie Ann Baade
The conversation about modern female surrealist artists always mentions Laurie Lipton and often also always mentions Carrie Ann Baade. She is a professor of painting at Florida State University and a painter herself. Take a look at her website and you'll see her work described as edgy and intellectual which is an apt description of what she does. You'll also see a photo of the artist which hints at an appreciation for the style of modern women of the past - the kind of women who probably adored the first surrealist artists to enter the world. Magical!
9. Shahla Rosa
Perhaps my favorite female artist who is working in surrealism today is Shahla Rose. Her goal is to use her artwork to bring peace and harmony to the world around her. This is achieved by the beauty of her work. It is truly magical, based in beautiful fantasies and vivid imagery. I feel like you can truly see the energy moving through her pictures. What I really love is how intricate and detailed her work is - she fits so much in to one painting and gives you a lot to look at in each piece.
10. Wendy Seller
The first artist whose work was recognized as being created in the neo-surrealist style was actually a woman: Wendy Seller. It was the mid-1990s when the paintings that she was making were dubbed neosurrealist which was the beginning of the new movement in contemporary surrealism. Her work incorporates a lot of images from nature and brings them together in a magically pretty manner. She, too, is a favorite artist of mine.
Neo-surrealism vs. surrealism
A quick note to point out that there are some differences between surrealism and neo-surrealism but I've included them both together here in the form of contemporary surrealism. They have many of the same characteristics. The main difference is that there were more rules and strictness surrounding the form and style of early surrealism whereas surrealism today incorporates many different formats, materials, approaches and topics.
Alexander James Guckenberger from Maryland, United States of America on December 05, 2017:
I love surrealism so much. Thanks for the article!
Seamus Rossi from London on March 28, 2017:
Thanks for the article. A great collection of artists - I really liked the stuffo on George Grie.
John Hansen from Queensland Australia on December 09, 2015:
Very interesting article. Thank you for introducing me to these artists.
Besarien from South Florida on October 20, 2014:
Thank you for introducing me to Escobedo!
carlarmes from Bournemouth, England on December 06, 2012:
Those images are inspirational and disturbing, too much drug taking I think.
cool158 on December 04, 2012:
Daniel hanequand on September 29, 2012:
Congrats,great and fine talents,now is there any room for myself at 74? I specialized in the most discriminated medium...colored pencil drawing!!! any room for it? Thank you.Daniel
Yeny Clismats on January 07, 2012:
Great artists, this is an article many interesting.
Marie on January 07, 2012:
Thank you for this selection.
anon on October 04, 2011:
Nice list, but this article is full of inaccuracies. "This art is magical, attention-getting, fantastical, beautiful and fun to look at." is a terrible way to describe Surrealism, and it shows a lack of understanding on the author's part. Artistic movements are not defined only by style, they are defined by the intellectual implications of the work. Surrealism is a very specific movement that occurred within a specific context as a reaction to Dada between the devastation of the world wars in Europe, and those who were part of the movement worked to create and define the term through manifestos and writings. One cannot place in the same category works that were produced within that specific context, with unrelated work that simply borrows its style from the earlier movement but is produced by artists in another part of the world almost 100 years later. Instead, another term needs to be developed and defined to describe what is happening with Surrealist elements found in contemporary art today. To try and artificially equate actual Surrealist works with works influenced by Surrealism would be foolish and, frankly, inaccurate. The term "Neo-Surrealism" hardly shows a distinction between the two movements besides the fact that the later movement borrows a great deal from the former one, and therefore does not work to redefine the new genre to distinguish it from what we have already seen for 100 years now, and for the same reason fails to generate any real interest. I prefer the term "pop-surrealism" as there are pop-art elements in almost all contemporary painting coming from this genre (I would argue that the pop influence is even stronger than the Surrealist influence), but I think the artists need to be directly involved in creating a new identity for themselves and naming their movement. After all, that is what an artistic movement is and strives to do.
Kelley Marks from Sacramento, California on June 27, 2011:
I really like hubbers who write about art. They make such interesting people. Anyway, I certainly like the work of Kris Kuksi. That zeppelin is outrageous. Later!
BrainMan on April 29, 2011:
This was a terrific post and in my humble opinion, right on target; every one of the aforementioned artists are unquestionably among the top ten contemporary surrealists. Quite honestly, I'd be hard-pressed to assign a ranking to any one over another! In addition, I would like to add #11 -- an up and coming artist whose work is absolutely phenomenal. His name is Mark Garro and has been making hit after hit and by the end of this century will most certainly go down in the annals of surrealism as one of the most innovative, imaginative, and technically superb artists of our time. Check it out for yourself:
Ashok Rajagopalan from Chennai on January 12, 2010:
Kathryn, thanks for introducing me to the work of these artists. I have a tendency to live in the past. :D
Guille on December 22, 2009:
I would add Brooke Shaden and Daria Edresen
Taylor Finch from United Kingdom on December 06, 2009:
Some unusual artwork. I love the first one by Escobedo especially.
LeonJane from Australia on November 30, 2009:
Thanks for sharing these artists, I enjoy the creativity of Surrealism.