How can surrealist work of art be distinguished from nonsense?
I don’t buy the concept of surrealism as a Rorschach test. If you try hard enough, you can find meaning anywhere, even in nonsense. So what does it mean for art to make sense in a world where anything can be interpreted to mean something?
There will always be a place for art that doesn’t make any kind of objective sense, and only means something – and usually something very different – to each person who sees it. Yet we should call it what it is – nonsense. Surrealism suggests that the art doesn’t speak to us in any logical language, but that different people can view it and see similar themes in the art.
Is that the test? That if lots of people see the same themes in a work of weird art, then it is surrealist? How then can one person determine the difference when they see a work of art?
David Lynch’s Mulholland Dr. is a good example of a surrealist work. There are parts of the movie that do not flow in any logical or reasonable fashion. Yet many people have noticed the theme of Hollywood as a powerful fantasy that ties the movie together. That’s probably because it is not completelly surreal, there are still parts of the movie that are logical which allow us to make sense of the illogical parts.
What about something that is completely surrealist like a Jackson Pollock painting? Nonsense? Or can different people view the work and see something similar?