The Rise of the Value of Surrealism –

The Rise of the Value of Surrealism –

royThere is no doubt that Surrealism is a highly undervalued and under appreciated movement that has the potential for a significant increase in desirability and value in the not too distant future for reasons that I will explain later on. The most famous Surrealist artist would have to be Salvador Dali with the other major Surrealist painters being Jean Arp, Max Ernst, André Masson, René Magritte, Yves Tanguy, Pierre Roy, Paul Delvaux, and Joan Miró. It is interesting to note that if you go to google and search for “dali auction record” (with quotation marks) you get no results but if you search for “warhol auction record” you get 47 results or if you search for “picasso auction record” you get 29 results. Even more interesting is the fact that the auction record for Picasso is US$104 million dollars and the auction record for Warhol is US$71 million dollars whereas the auction record for Dali is a mere US $3.6 million dollars. Is Dali any less important or an less talented than Picasso or Warhol? The other Surrealists don’t fair much better with Andre Breton, the father of the Surrealism movement, managing an auction record of US$3 million and most of the other major players achieving around the same prices for their Surrealist works with a few exceptions.

The most successful of those artists who dabbled in Surrealism based on the value of their work would have to be Joan Miro who has a current auction record of $16.7 million for the work ‘La caresse des étoiles’. According to the Christie’s catalogue entry for this work “It is a 20th century masterwork in the most profound sense, for in addition to its exceptional pictorial qualities as a work of art, it offers illuminating insight into the tragic drama of modern history in which it was created”. The phenomenal price achieved for ‘La caresse des étoiles’ can, however, be attributed to the history and provenance of the work, it’s cultural and historical significance as well as the fact that Miro chose not to become a fully fledged member of the Surrealist movement in order to remain free to experiment with other styles. For these reasons the price achieved for ‘La caresse des étoiles’ could be considered to be anomalous.

The main reasons that Surrealism has failed to achieve the same success as other art movements is that Surrealism is relatively ambiguous, ill defined and difficult to understand which make the works much less attractive. Also, many of the artists who produced work that is considered to be Surrealist were not solely dedicated to the pursuits of the Surrealist movement and did not adhere to the rules and regulations of the movement which makes the task of contextualising Surrealist artworks even more difficult. According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica “The work of these artists is too diverse to be summarized categorically as the Surrealist approach in the visual arts. Each artist sought his own means of self-exploration”

Surrealism is, however, beginning to receive the attention and respect that it deserves which is being reflected in the market for Surrealist works.

to be continued…….

Pierre Roy
A Naturalist’s Study 1928
Le Cabinet du naturaliste

**Nicholas Forrest is an art market analyst, art critic and journalist based in Sydney, Australia. He is the founder of, writes the art column for the magazine Antiques and Collectibles for Pleasure and Profit and contributes to many other publications.

6 Responses

  1. Surrealism is on the rise! We are seeing a major increase in interest here at the Dali Society.

  2. I got some Miro, Max Ernst, Hans Bellmer and Andre Masson prints. Will they go up in value? I thought young people are more interested in contemporary art.

  3. very interesting summary and contextual history within art movements, – look forward to the continuation.
    Much appreciated.

  4. Thanks Adrian, next installment of the Surrealism story coming up soon so stay tuned!!


  5. […] A little while ago I wrote a post about rise of the value of Surrealism. That post was an general introduction to the Surrealist movement so I will now, in continuation from the last post, explain the factors that have led to an increase in the popularity and value of Surrealist art. If you haven’t read the previous post on Surrealism you can do so here: […]

  6. Classifying Surrealism by the narrow interpretation of Andre Breton’s “cookbook” (he doubted that visual artists could even meet the criteria), and eliminating any artists that have been banished by Breton, leaves very few, but certainly none of the major well known Surrealists, which were either expelled or never bothered to join. Textbook historians such as H.H.Arnason or H.W.Janson give Surrealism short shrift.
    German artist Neo Rauch is certainly pretty successful, but maintains that he is not a Surrealist. Strange. Is he afraid to be ‘stigmatised’ as a Surrealist? Anyone familiar with Dali’s Secret of Magic Craftmanship would recognise Rauch’s method and inspiration, so why the denial?
    To really understand the Surrealist Movement from an insiders point of view, one would have to consult Marcel Jean The History of Surrealist Painting.
    With a rising interest amongst a new generation of young visionary artists and many discerning collectors of this type of work (great bargains still to be found), the neo-surrealist movement, by whatever other names (Fantastic Realism, Visionary Art), is about to take off in grand fashion.
    I am encouraged by this and hope that the contributions by so many new artists in this field will gain wider recognition.

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