August's assignment show is titled "REM Cycle" and will focus on the art of dreams and nightmares. Dreams have often served as subject matter for artistic endeavors, from the dream worlds of filmmakers like Michel Gondry and David Lynch to the eerie writings of Samuel Coleridge and Clive Barker. In the visual arts dreams can lead to fantastical imagery and strange compositions, alternatively frightening or comedic, and often a combination of the familiar and the uncanny. If you would like to create a work for "REM Cycle" but are stuck on where to start or how to incorporate the theme, here's a little inspiration to get you started. The submission deadline is July 21st! An eighteenth century art movement that often drew from dreams was Symbolism, which was created by some European artists as a reaction against Neo-Classicism and Realism, wanting to infuse their works with imagination and spirituality. One of the most-known Symbolists is Odilon Redon, whose strange drawings of composite creatures and religious figures often verge on nightmarish. Outsider artist Henri Rousseau, active around the same time, created similarly unreal works with his flat, stylized paintings of colorful jungles (though he never left France), and often fused idealized dream imagery with the illustrations of jungles he used as references.
Of course, the most notable artworks influenced by dreams are those of the Surrealist movement, whose members placed high value on the process of Freudian dream analysis as a window into the subconscious, and often incorporated dream imagery. Salvador Dalí was especially known for his vast dreamscapes featuring elongated figures and animals, melting objects, and optical illusions. German painter Max Ernst experimented with a variety of techniques for his imaginative works, which often included bird symbolism and multiple layers of images. His wife Dorothea Tanning painted dream-like scenarios with a heightened realism.
More recently, artists of varying styles and media have turned to dreams and surreal imagery as subjects in their art. Jane Gifford has created a sprawling series of paintings inspired by her dreams, often shown in grayscale with flashes of color. Robin Whitmore kept an online dream journal, intimately illustrating his "nightvisions" in different media and writing down their stories,. Photographer Joshua Hoffine is definitely on the "nightmare" side of things, staging elaborate tableaux of horrific visions of monsters, killers, and the paranormal.
If you're not directly inspired directly by dreams and nightmares, you might instead be compelled to create works about sleeping habits! Many artists have made sleeping figures their subject, from Constantin Brancusi to Henri Matisse. Inspired by the relationship between Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns, photographer Tammy Rae Carland did a series of aerial shots of the empty beds of lesbian couples.