Poetic Shock

Posted January 29, 2010 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Art, Culture / 0 Comments

The Son Of Man

Possibly my favourite Surrealist would be René Magritte, one of the main reasons what because he ignored the previous 30 or so years of art and went back to basics, combining realism with surrealism. For example: in the painting ‘The Son of Man’ he painted an apple that looks like an apple (realism) but the apple was placed in front of a mans face (surrealism). Another artist that did some similar was Paul Delvaux and his reason for this; “to produce poetic shock by putting heterogeneous but real things together in an unexpected way.”

Poetic Shock has been used a lot nowadays, most notably in the 70’s by British graphics arts group Hipgnosis. The difference between Hipgnosis and the Surrealists was not only LSD, but the graphic design group used Poetic Shock to send very basic messages. Look at two Pink Floyd albums done by the group, Wish You Were Here and Animal. Wish You Were Here depicts two business men shaking hands but one is on fire (Getting burned in a business deal) and Animal simply has an inflatable Pig floating through the air (Pigs can fly). Magritte’s The Lovers shows two people sitting back to back with their face covered by a white sheet. Though Magritte never explained the meaning of his paintings, many have believed it’s a picture of loneliness and alienation.

Poetic Shock has also been used in Movies to scare people, one of the best example of this is the 1980’s horror classic The Shining. Danny was riding his bike around the Overlook Hotel and ran into the twins. Where normally people would think nothing of this, in the movie the twins were not expected to be there, leading to a perfect example of Poetic Shock in a movie.

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