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A method of painting or drawing in which conscious control is suppressed, allowing the subconscious to take over. André Breton wrote in the Surrealist manifesto of 1924 of ‘pure psychic automatism’, of art being produced in the state of a dream. Although artists such as Arp and the Zurich Dadaists had shown an interest in such artistic phenomena a few years earlier, it was really the Surrealists who developed them and, through their later links, transmitted such an interest to the United States where it was taken up by Jackson Pollock and certain of the Abstract Expressionists.

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