Space is the area in which an artwork is organized.The Surrealists wanted to create dreamlike imagery through the unusual juxtaposition of objects in space. By using photos found in magazines, you will create a surreal image of fantastic imagery creating the illusion of reality.


The term "surreal" refers to an image has the disorienting quality of a dream; unreal or fantastical. This cultural movement of Surrealism was popularized by the Surrealist painters of the 1920s, including Salvador Dalí.

Student Artwork, Mission High School, San Francisco, CA


  • A variety of magazines
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Card stock background to support collage
  • Acrylic gel medium (optional)
  • Camera (optional)


  • Gather images from a variety of magazines. Select images of different sizes and from a variety of contexts. Cut out each image cleanly using scissors.
  • Search the magazines for a sizable background image. You may overlap and stack various backgrounds to extend your environment. The original Surrealist painters used large, open spaces.
  • Having a distinct foreground, background and middle-ground will create more depth in your composition.
  • Move the objects around to explore different compositions. Remember to overlap objects to create depth. If you have a camera, it may be helpful to document your changes before you commit to your final design.
  • To create dream-like imagery, use the four compositional tools of the Surrealists:
  1. Unusual juxtapositions (e.g., a dog's head on a human body)
  2. Decontextualization (e.g., a fish in a desert)
  3. Unnatural scale relationships (e.g., something that is usually small appears large)
  4. Large, spacious open background


  • Describe the space you created. What makes your collage surreal or dreamlike?
  • How did you create the illusion of depth in your piece?
  • Select a classmate's collage and create a story based on its content.
  • Share your surreal collage online and tag #ArtSchoolElements.