Concerned with thought and expression of thought, the surrealists were primarily active as both an artistic and intellectual movement during the first half of the 20th century in Paris. They drew on the advancements in psychoanalysis brought on by Freud and the practice of 'spirit mediums' trance-like displays and acted as a reaction to the hard rationalism of the Marxists.
They explored the subconscious, developing automatic art-making techniques that were both literary and visual - taking lead from Freud's theories about free-association - and an 'oneiric' or dream-like style eschewing the traditions of narrative flow and urging a more instinctive and interpretive reaction to their work. The believed that as much wonder was to be found in reality as in the dream world.
The most celebrated surrealist artists were Dali, Magritte and Ernst - creating in a more oneric way - and Miro for his automatism.
Salvador Dali, The Temptation of St. Anthony.
Joan Miro, The Escape Ladder.
Both show reference to organic, recognisable forms but warped and transformed to represent an entirely new entity. The two styles, oneric and automatism, are clearly distinct from each other (despite these being limited examples) but both are also visibly 'surreal'