Surrealism as we know it today is closely related to some forms of abstract art. In fact, they shared similar origins, but they diverged on their interpretation of what those origins meant to the aesthetic. .
Surrealists allowed the images of the subconscious to surface undisturbed so that their meaning could then be deciphered through analysis. They wanted to faithfully represent these images as a link between the abstract spiritual realities, and the real forms of the material world. To them, the object stood as a metaphor for an inner reality. Through metaphor the world could be understood, not by looking at the objects, but by looking into them. .
Every profession has its own history in which the accumulation of knowledge is the basis to push the frontiers into the unknown. Dali and Picasso are two masters who stand at the front of two opposite approaches to art in the Twentieth Century. Dali embraced all the science of painting as a way to study the psyche through subconscious images. He called this process the Paranoiac Critical Method. As any paranoiac, the artist should allow these images to reach the conscience, and then do what the paranoiac cannot do: Freeze them on canvas to give consciousness the opportunity to comprehend their meaning. Later on, he expanded the process into the Oniric-Critical Method, in which the artist pays attention to his dreams, freezing them through art, and analyzing them as well. As Freud said, "A dream that is not interpreted is like a letter that is not opened." .
The surrealists of today recognise the difficulties that their movement has faced during the second half of the Twentieth Century as it attempted to become a major cultural force, like modernism had. The United States, a country in which the business community never had to share its power with the upper classes, wholeheartedly embraced abstraction and modernism. They shared the belief of abstract artists that the chaos of action painting and surrealism were expressions of freedom, and that form, suppression and inhibition walked hand in hand.