Founded in 2002 by Jon Beinart as the beinArt Australian Surreal Art Collective and expanded internationally in 2006, the collective has a presence in the form of a web site with galleries of work by the participating artists.
The Collective is a treasure trove of fantastic art with, as Beinart puts it, a representation of both “light” and “dark” themes. The book follows suit, and from the preview pages posted in the Collective’s Forum (click on the images for larger versions), promises to be a definitive collection of contemporary artists working in this vein.
If I were going to pick nits, and I’m obviously about to, I would balk at the casual misuse of the terms “Surreal” and “Surrealist”; even though I’m occasionally guilty of it myself. My point is not even that Surrealism was a specific art movement from a particular time, but that Surrealism was an art devoted to specific principles and intentions, and not just a catch-all term for art that includes bizarre imagery.
Surrealism was primarily a literary movement, to which the visual art was considered an adjunct; even though it overshadows the literary component in the public mind. Both aspects of Surrealism, however, were devoted to social, political and psychological upheaval; a revolution that was to be brought about by art created through expressions of the unconscious mind. This intention was laid out in the Surrealist Manifestos of the poet André Breton, who was the leader of the Surrealist movement. (You can read more about true Surrealism here, including an essay by Breton.)
I doubt that many of the artists in the “Surreal Art Collective” (or most of those contemporary artists referred to as “Surrealist”) concern themselves with automatism or the other elements of Surrealist creative process. I wouldn’t even call Ernst Fuchs, who I recognize as an important figure in fantastic painting, a Surrealist, and I doubt that he would classify himself as such.
The desire to misappropriate the term is common and understandable, though; the more correct terms of fantastic art, visionary art, magic realism or fantastic realism don’t have the same zing and brand-name recognition as “Surrealism”, but they are more accurate.
Now that I’ve got that out of my system (for the moment), I’ll go on to say that the new book from the beinArt Collective looks terrific and includes work from a number of artists I’ve featured previously on lines and colors, including Sergi Aparin, Brom, Andrew Gonzalez and Alex Grey.
There is a full artist list here in which the artists’ names are linked to examples of their work. You can spend hours discovering amazing work in the beinArt Collective’s online galleries (as I have done on occasion), but as with much visual art, there is a great deal to be said about the appearance of high-resolution images in print, quite different from viewing the same images in low resolution on screen.
Images above, from top: Alex Grey, Andrew Gonzalez, Pavel Surma, Ernst Fuchs, Carrie Anne Baade.
Addendum: The beinArt Surreal Art Collective also has a blog at: http://beinart.org/info/art-news.php