Absurdism in Art

Swapna Mirashi

Absurdist art grew post World War II from the absurdist philosophy. Absurdism, in turn stemmed from part hopelessness from the World War, part discovery that ‘life has a meaning’ is an absurd concept.

“I’m afraid if you look at a thing long enough, it loses its meaning.” – Andy Warhol

Absurdism is closely linked to surrealism. The difference is  surrealism depicts a dreamlike state, whereas absurdist art is devoid of any meaning – it turns reality over its head.

Rene’ Magritte who painted the iconic ‘this is not a pipe’ pipe The Treachery of Images in 1929, had a penchant for the absurd.  He had a lasting influence on the contemporary art, pop art and conceptual art that were to follow.

Several pop artists from Andy Warhol to Yoyoi Kusuma to Michael Chelov have brought out the Absurd through their works.

Albert Camus is considered as the father of the Theatre of the Absurd. His ‘The Myth of Sisyphus’ is considered as one of the major works on the Absurd.

Nicolai Gogol’s The Nose is a satirical short story in which an official’s nose leaves his face and assumes a life of its own.

Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis 

Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland

Edward Lear