Absinthe and Surrealist Dreamscapes
Surrealism was an art movement which combined literature, philosophy, art, and psychology during the 20th century. With its focus on the surreal, surrealism allowed artists to tap into their subconscious memories through dream imagery, which often appeared in Surrealist paintings. Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams (1900) encouraged artists to explore this unknown by creating works which combined familiar images with strange ones – dreamscapes are a perfect example.
Absinthe was a beloved source of creative stimulation among avant-garde artists during its heyday in Paris; artists like Picasso, Toulouse-Lautrec and van Gogh frequently consumed it during L’Heure Verte (The Green Hour). Absinthe’s green anise spirit was thought to induce hallucinations that freed artists from rationality and logic to produce work of unparalleled artistic genius.
At the height of absinthe production in Pontarlier, France was Pernod Fils; so popular were its products that copycat companies came under its influence with similar labels such as Pernot and Perriot; some even used carcinogenic coloring agents containing dangerous chemicals and were even produced using dangerous methods – reflecting an era of excess and decadence that Colson depicts with his painting depicting an empty bottle of absinthe.
Surrealists’ fascination with dreams also had an effect on other artistic mediums, including film and photography. For instance, their use of montage–combining images in an illusory space to simulate dreamlike experiences– became popular within Surrealist filmmaking; similarly, photographers like Herbert Bayer and Alfred Stieglitz used eye-catching motifs that created optical illusions designed to challenge reality for viewers.