A meme is created by combining a number of unrelated elements (images, phrases, feelings, symbols) to reveal a conceptually new, easily shareable image. The consumption of memes exploded over the last 2 decades because they provided a new medium to explore humor, express outrage, and for better or worse, a way to spread the word.

Personally, I was drawn to surreal memes because they provided a guaranteed refuge, not only from the dystopian headlines and hate-mongerering celebs, but also from my own catastrophizing outlook.

While surrealism has always been an element of mainstream memes, it wasn’t until half a decade ago that surreal memes branched into their own genre. Rooted in Dadaism and early Surrealist art, surreal memes are irrational on purpose, which makes them impossible to explain.

That said, the average surreal meme enjoyer may recognize the following themes and signifiers:

  • Imaginary landscapes
  • Visual puns
  • z̴͚̜̙̉́͘ä̷̙̲́l̵̢̯͓̍g̵̩͐̀o̸̢̱̍ Text
  • Distorted figures
  • Unusual placements of ordinary objects
  • Menacing PSA’s/calls-to-action
  • Seemingly random quesions and hypotheticals
  • Misspelled non-sequiturs
  • Automatism: The uncontrolled rapid outpouring of unconscious thought
  • Anthropomorphism: The attribution of human traits to non-human entities

This is a collection of my favorite modern surrealist memes and artworks, organized by the moods, memories, and feelings they evoked.

Melancholic Piano

long hallway
By: @thecallcenter
Mango Fact of the Day
By: @real.surreal.memes
Chair Suffering
By: u/merlthewiz

Whimsical Stylophone

By: u/sylvestermeister
30 to 40 Olives
By: @socialpracticemafia
cow length
By: @bananna.boi_

Pensive Orchestration

Nation Transfixed
By: @welcometomymemepage
Attention All Passengers
Found on: r/surrealmemes

Menacing Percussion

By: @neatzsche
By: @thatsbelievable
The Centrum Silver Effect
By: @enlightenedlowlife
More Clues
By: @calkearns
The Harvest
By: @all_hail_the_mat
By: @ordinarypeoplememes

Alternative Jazz

If no one cared about the Mona Lisa
By: @helpimtrappedinsideofatv
Stop Doing Math
By: @welcometomymemepage
By: @thatsbelievable
Mortal to Plant
By: u/null_h

Hopeful Ukulele

a beautiful dream
By: @thecallcenter
A Special Meter
By: @trevorallenunofficial
People Change
By: u/linnftw
Why I Love My Mother
By: @chrissimpsonsartist

If you’re interested in learning more, please visit r/surrealmemes as well as the artists credited in this post.