Automatism (Art)

Automatism. Pictorial movement that starts from the fact that it can be created from and from everything, pure creativity only belongs to nature and therefore we learn to copy through attentive observation, intuition and suspicious attention to the unconscious.


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  • 1 Description
  • 2 Basic principles
  • 3 Theories
  • 4 Initiating artists of this movement
  • 5 Theories of Automatism
  • 6 Source


All means of expression are valid. It is aesthetically nourished by all artistic currents and styles, as well as the archetypal universal collective unconscious that deals with the past, present and future, united in the same timeline whose duration is an infinite instant.

Basic principles

  • Everything is rational. The irrational does not exist.
  • The unconscious predominates and dominates.
  • Memorization is of secondary importance; instinct is given preponderance.
  • Knowledge and information is the fundamental basis of creation.
  • Observation is the cornerstone of design.
  • Decision-making must be immediate without specific purposes, assuming all the necessary risks.
  • There are no mistakes, only opportunities; the smallest error must become the cornerstone of a masterpiece.


  • Automatism is the reflection of the unconscious, the inner mirror of the individual.
  • It is a form of expression that has always existed and that for years has been erroneously considered a technique, this being a movement in itself, which gives rise to other forms of expression such as surrealism .

Initiating artists of this movement

  • Yves Tanguy . (Paris, 1900 – Woodbury (Connecticut), 1955). French painter, nationalized as an American in 1948. In 1920 , during his military service, he met the poet Jacques Prévert, in whose company he began to lead a bohemian life. He became interested in painting after observing works by De Chirico in the Paul Guillaume Gallery. In 1925 he met Breton and joined the surrealist movement.
  • Roberto Matta . (Santiago de Chile, 1911 – Civitavecchia (Rome), 2002). Chilean painter. He studied Architecture at the Catholic University of Santiago and in 1933 he went to Paris , where he worked in Le Corbusier’s studio. Through Dalí he met Breton, who soon welcomed him into the surrealism group and included him in the “International Surrealism Exhibition” in 1938 .


André Bello, founder of surrealism

  • André Breton . (Tinchebray, 1896 – Paris, 1966). French poet and writer. After completing partial medical studies, he came into contact with Apollinaire, taking an active part in the Paris Dadaist agitation. In 1924 he published the first Manifesto of Surrealism, becoming a central point of reference for the movement.

Breton used it only as a descriptive form of surrealism and not as a movement itself; Breton defined: “Surrealism is pure psychic automatism, by means of which an attempt is made to express verbally, in writing or in any way the real functioning of thought.”

That is, a dictation of thought without the intervention of reason; Although the intention of the French writer was that surrealism was nourished by the above, it was transmuting into something else very distant from the initial objective. Although at its base automatism is nourished by Freudian theories, it is closer to Jung’s analytical psychology, since it does not work on the basis of dreams.

Theories of Automatism

  • Automatism is the reflection of the unconscious, the inner mirror of the individual.
  • It is a form of expression that has always existed and that for years has been erroneously considered a technique, this being a movement in itself, which gives rise to other forms of expression such as surrealism .
  • The automation must require the minimum of prior planning. At this point is where automatism becomes the rebellious son of surrealism, of which he was initially the father, etymologically speaking.
  • In Costa Rica , it is where the International Automatic Movement was officially born , whose members work on the rethinking and vindication of the role of automatism in the history of universal art through design. In automatism, aesthetics and dexterity in execution are relegated to the background; premium concept.
  • By way of example, the automation can originate from an event as simple as a telephone conversation. Humanity, through the centuries, in most communication processes has required direct contact with its receiver through any of the 5 senses. However, since the birth of the telephone, a gate is left open to the honest unconscious expression of the individual.
  • By having a conversation, the individual remains consciously connected to the different senses that he will use to give a logical form to the communication. If it is direct, they will take part in the leading role according to the faculties of each participant – language, hearing and sight. Leaving out eye contact, the process changes radically: seeing to imagining are two completely different things.
  • A conscious versus unconscious process. In a telephone communication, the individual consciously connects with his receiver through language, however, when the visual barrier is broken, the individual is able to carry out an infinity of tasks, some of them unconsciously; when the imagination is exposed, a trance is created: automatism.
  • In automation as in the creation of musical works, a minimum of time is used to shape a basic composition; what in music is popularly called jam session. This base composition in music is translated into sounds that reflect the artist’s feelings.
  • By reducing the gestation time of the same, the individual’s conscious thought is limited and the unconscious is invited to participate with greater prominence in the development of the work; it can then be refined to create harmony.
  • It is through design that there is the possibility of reaching a more concise visual automatism, because the Internet opened the doors to a faster and more efficient creation process, therefore these invoiced works have a higher degree of automatism than others.
  • In design, virtuosity is transmuted into the use and knowledge of some software, which should be relegated to the background, the learning plane, easily accessible to any human being. Certainly, the best designer is not the one who knows better how to handle a computer program, but the one who best uses his mind when creating it; Today, the automatism tries to achieve the same with the work of the designer, to claim his task, which has been relegated by other manifestations of a pictorial nature.
  • Even collage could be considered a more automated means of expression than surrealism itself; being like design, a collection of images or photographs transformed into a more complex graphic work, with the intervention of electronic media.
  • According to automata, automatism is not necessarily the genesis of Surrealism , or Cubism, or Expressionism, or Mannerism , or Pop Art , or Dadaism, or even Expressionism . Automatism is the genesis of the Universe, and all other movements are just a matter of form. Automation has been the conceptual background of Everything that exists.
  • The operator also rethinks the concept of masterpiece based on the origin of this term, in the Renaissance, when the craftsman becomes recognized as an artist and his work is finally qualified as a masterpiece according to his intellect and imagination; Unlike the modern concept, which includes parameters such as virtuosity; from which the automatism is divorced.
  • The use of collective symbols is precisely a fundamental piece in automatism, since they describe states of mind, sensitivity or identifying expressions of a personal reality, by acting as mirrors of the designer. Its origin is no longer important, copyrights are unnecessary, here everything is about transmitting what the unconscious says regardless of its origin or origin. Gaetan Gatian de Clerambault , who was director of the French Psychiatric Hospital , spoke of automatism even before Breton, however he refused to use it as a way of interpreting or reading his patients.
  • Breton said that automatism seemed more creative in the verb / auditory form as opposed to the verb / visual. The design gives the possibility of issuing a proposal more congruent with such a description. MOAI, International Automatic Movement.


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