Joanna Pawlik
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Cartooning the marvelous
Word and image in Chicago Surrealism
in Mixed messages
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The Chicago group of Surrealists has been overlooked in accounts of Surrealism’s legacy in America, which have tended to delimit the movement’s impact to the visual arts alone and neglect Surrealism’s appeal to radicals and activists outside of cultural institutions. This essay argues that the Chicago group’s interpretation of word-image combinations drawn from American popular and vernacular culture constitutes a challenge to Eurocentric understandings of avant-gardism. It imbues Surrealism with a distinctive currency and profile in postwar America, one that brings it closer to grass roots activism as well as casting the movement’s significance in terms of the reception rather than production of cultural artefacts. Exploring the role of comics in Chicago Surrealism, as Pawlik demonstrates, sheds new light on the role of image-text relations in mediating the passage of European avant-gardism to America, as well as occasioning new interpretative possibilities of the dynamics between art and politics, and high and low culture in twentieth century America.

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Mixed messages

American correspondences in visual and verbal practices


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