The Lives of the Surrealists


Shocking, witty and always entertaining: a biographical survey of the principal Surrealists by one of the last surviving members of the movement, bestselling author and artist Desmond Morris


ISBN: 9780500296370 Category:

Desmond Morris


No other art movement in history has contained two artists as different as Magritte and MirĂ³. This is because Surrealism was not in origin an art movement, but a philosophical strategy. It was a way of life – a rebellion against the establishment that had given the world the hideous slaughter of the First World War. Instead of trying to analyse the work of the Surrealists, bestselling author and Surrealist artist Desmond Morris concentrates on them as people – as remarkable individuals. What were their personalities, their predilections, their character strengths and flaws? Did they enjoy a social life or were they loners? Were they bold eccentrics or timid recluses?

Drawing on the author’s personal knowledge of the Surrealists, this book captures their life histories, idiosyncrasies and often-complex love lives, vividly illustrated with images of the artists and their works. The arts of Surrealism were both spectacular and international, shaped by the darkest, most irrational workings of the unconscious. Shocking, witty and always entertaining, Morris’s tales illuminate the striking variation in approaches to the Surrealist philosophy, both in the artists’ work and in their lives.

With 72 illustrations

Additional information

Weight 536 g
Dimensions 16.5 x 23.9 cm
Publisher name Thames and Hudson Ltd
Publication date 20 August 2021
Number of pages 272
Format Paperback / softback
Dimensions 16.5 x 23.9 cm
Weight 536 g


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Desmond Morris is one of the last surviving Surrealists. His first solo exhibition was held in 1948 and in 1950 he shared his first London show with Joan MirĂ³. He has since completed over 2,500 Surrealist paintings, and eight books have been published about his work. He has also written several books, one of which - The Naked Ape - ranks among the top 100 bestsellers of all time, with over 12 million copies sold.