From the Biblical Dream to Surrealism
The first-ever history of the representation of dreams in Western painting, illustrated with works by more than 130 artist.
Organized by period, from the Middle Ages to the present, this engaging book shows how the idea of the dream, andits depictions, have shifted throughout history, from th e biblical dream—a communication from God—to the deeply personal dream, the lighthearted fantasy, the nightmare.
Sometimes these ideas have existed simultaneously: thus we have, only a few years apart, Raphael’s limpid High Renaissance composition of Jacob dreaming his Ladder; Albrecht Dürer’s watercolor of a mysterious deluge that he saw in his own slumbers; and Hieronymus Bosch’s nightmarish hellscapes.
More recently, movements such as Symbolism and Surrealism have taken the dream as a primary source of inspiration, even conflating dreaming and the creative process itself. This rich vein of visionary art runs from Gustave Moreau and Odilon Redon, through De Chirico and Dalí, down to the present—demonstrating, as Bergez reminds us, that Morpheus was a god of form as well as of dreams.
Daniel Bergez is a scholar, curator, and critic whose work focuses on the relationship between painting and literature. His monograph on Nobel laureate Gao Xingjian won the Prix Bernier of the Académie des Beaux-Arts.