WOMEN’S ROLE IN SURREALISM

  • “The problem of woman,” André Breton wrote in 1929, “is the most marvelous and disturbing problem in all the world.”
  • Although the 1920s allowed women to redefine their role within society, within the surrealism art world, there was still a struggle of a patriarchal nature.
  • Men and women would often work together as partners, although the men would often gain the popularity whilst the women stayed in the shadows.
  • Women were seen as objects of masculine desire and fantasy, they were ‘mystical’ creatures, and fetishized. Women = muses, and they were often reffered to in this way. ‘She is the ‘muse of’ or the ‘wife of’ instead of her own name. They were often given the roles of models, depicted mostly nude, they were there to ‘inspire poetry’ and were not allowed to participate in Breton’s discussion of the art world. Well renowned female surrealists working at the same time as their male counterparts reportedly could not join the movement, artists such as Frida Kahlo and Claude Cahun although they were exhibiting, were not given the same level of respect.
  • Women’s voices were gaining strength within the movement and some were ‘allowed’ to join, however they were kept at an arms length; too much intelligence and standing for themselves meant they could not (and often refused) to be treated as a muse; a sexual object.
  • Towards the end of the 20s, more and more women were breaking away from their male art partners, and making names for themselves, creating work that reflected how they felt about their space within society.

  • Women however, were active within the movement, but often used their voices to talk about the state of society and how the female form was both shown, and talked about. This was a way to use their voices to make a stand, instead of leaving it to the male figures within the society to talk about their bodies.

Germaine Greer on surrealism’s women | Art and design | The Guardian

https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2007/mar/05/art.gender

The Pivotal Role That Women Have Played in Surrealism – Artsy

Surrealism and Women | The MIT Press

Female Surrealists – Women Artists in a Male-Dominated Surrealism | Widewalls

The Role of Women in Surrealism | Tasneem Dairywala

The Other Art History: The Overlooked Women of Surrealism | Art for Sale | Artspace

Dreamers Awake: the women of Surrealism fight back

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