The Savage Eye


Experience some of history’s most significant artists, such as Salvador Dalí, Auguste Rodin, Louise Bourgeois and Pablo Picasso, in a book exploring the limitless world of the unconscious

This book is not yet published, but will be available from May 2022.

ISBN: 9788293560753 Category:


In 1930, Edvard Munch was affected by an eye problem that temporarily blinded him in one eye. During this period, he made a series of abstract and symbolic works inspired by the images the disease produced on his retina. In the book The Savage Eye, these works form a bridge between two radical art movements, Symbolism and Surrealism, both of which explored the idea of the unconscious.

Munch is often associated with Symbolism, a movement in literature and the visual arts that emerged in the 1880s. Influenced by the contemporary interest in spirituality and psychology, and in protest against naturalistic depictions of the real world, Symbolist artists turned their attention towards spirituality and the unconscious.

Some decades later, in 1924, the French poet André Breton wrote his «Manifesto of Surrealism», in which he argued that art should transform society by uniting the worlds of dreams and reality. In order to succeed, wrote Breton, artists must free themselves from rational and moral concerns, and seek to tap into the revolutionary power of the unconscious mind. This would open the way to a new understanding of personal experience and identity.

Additional information

Weight 300 g
Dimensions 19.5 x 26 cm
Publisher name Thames and Hudson Ltd
Publication date 31 May 2022
Number of pages 316
Format Hardback
Contributors Contributions by Lars Toft-Eriksen, Text by Emil Leth Meilvang, Allison Morehead, Gavin Parkinson, Jamieson Webster, and David Lomas
Dimensions 19.5 x 26 cm
Weight 300 g


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David Lomas was until 2018 Professor of Art History at the University of Manchester. From 2002 until 2007, he was co-director of the AHRB Research Centre for Studies of Surrealism and its Legacies. His PhD thesis, The Haunted Self: Surrealism, Psychoanalysis, Subjectivity, was published by Yale University Press (2000). Among his many publications on Surrealism, the book Simulating the Marvellous: Surrealism, Psychology, Postmodernism (2013) explores Surrealism's links to late nineteenth-century art, literature and science. Lomas has curated two major exhibitions on Surrealism and is a painter as well as an art historian.

Emil Leth Meilvang holds a PhD in Art History from the University of Oslo, awarded for his thesis Ecstatic Life - Biology, Surrealism, and Theories of Life in Interwar Paris and Copenhagen. He was co-curator of the exhibition The Savage Eye organised at MUNCH in 2022. Meilvang has contributed to numerous Scandinavian and international journals and conferences, while also working as a book editor and curator. He is currently employed at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen.

Allison Morehead is Associate Professor of Art History and Cultural Studies at Queen's University, Canada. She received her PhD from the University of Chicago with a dissertation on Symbolism and French experimental psychology, which was transformed into the book Nature's Experiments and the Search for Symbolist Form, published in 2017. Morehead has written a number of articles on Edvard Munch and leads the international and interdisciplinary research group 'Edvard Munch, Modernism, and Medicine'.

Gavin Parkinson is Professor of European Modernism at The Courtauld Institute of Art, London. He has published numerous essays and articles, mainly on Surrealism. His books are Enchanted Ground: André Breton, Modernism and the Surrealist Appraisal of Fin-de-Siècle Painting (Bloomsbury 2018), Futures of Surrealism (YUP 2015), Surrealism, Art and Modern Science (YUP 2008), The Duchamp Book (Tate Publishing 2008) and the edited collection Surrealism, Science Fiction and Comics (LUP 2015). His book Robert Rauschenberg and Surrealism: Art History, 'Sensibility' and War in the 1960s is forthcoming from Bloomsbury.

Lars Toft-Eriksen is Senior Curator at MUNCH. He was curator of the exhibition The Savage Eye organised at MUNCH in 2022. Toft-Eriksen specialises in Scandinavian Surrealism and holds a PhD in Art History from the University of Oslo. His thesis explored notions of genius and the unconscious in the early biographical reception of Edvard Munch, drawing among other perspectives on Surrealism. He has curated a number of exhibitions, ranging from Early Modernism to contemporary art.

Dr Jamieson Webster is a psychoanalyst in private practice in New York City. She is the author of The Life and Death of Psychoanalysis (Routledge 2011) and Conversion Disorder: Listening to the Body in Psychoanalysis (Columbia 2018); she also co-wrote, with Simon Critchley, Stay, Illusion! The Hamlet Doctrine (Pantheon 2013). She writes regularly for The New York Review of Books and teaches at the New School for Social Research.