During the Modernist period a number of important historical events occurred one being World War I that influenced a Modernist art movement called Dada.
Based in Zurich, Switzerland (neutral country) it was a direct reaction against the war, bourgeois and art. Visual artist used everyday items and technology to convey their message. Collages and photomontages were assembled with techniques similar to the cubist.
This art movement ultimately led to the development of Surrealism. They incorporated dreams and the unconscious in order to record or create art that had elements not normally found together. Andre Breton the leader of the Surrealist defined them with the following manifesto:
“Pure psychic automatism, by which one proposes to express, either verbally, in writing, or by any other manner, the real functioning of thought. Dictation of thought in the absence of all control exercised by reason, outside of all aesthetic and moral preoccupation.”
Photography came to occupy a central role in Surrealist activity. In the works of Man Ray and Maurice Tabard, the use of such procedures as double exposure, combination printing, montage, and solarization dramatically evoked the union of dream and reality. Other photographers used techniques such as rotation or distortion to render their images uncanny. Hans Bellmer obsessively photographed the mechanical dolls he fabricated himself, creating strangely sexualized images.
Photos: Joel-Peter Witkin, Henri Cartier Besson respectively