Goddess, she-devil, doll, fetish, child-woman or wonderful dream creature – in various guises, women were the central subject of male Surrealist fantasies. Women artists initially found their way into the circle surrounding André Breton, the founder of the Surrealist group, as companions or models. Yet they quickly broke out of those traditional roles and confidently created independent work. Female artists differed from their male colleagues above all in their reversal of perspective: they questioned their own reflection or took on different roles in search of a (new) model of female and artistic identity.
Fantastic Women, Surreal Worlds From Meret Oppenheim to Frida Kahlo, an exhibition that debuted at Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt and is now at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humblebæk, Denmark, from July 25 to Nov. 8, 2020, can be explored with this free digital overview.
The exhibition focuses on women artists who were directly associated with the Surrealist movement founded in Paris in the early 1920s, though sometimes only for a short period. Featuring about 260 remarkable paintings, works on paper, sculptures, photographs, and films by 34 artists, the exhibition covers a wide range of styles and subjects.
Besides well-known figures like Louise Bourgeois, Claude Cahun, Leonora Carrington, Frida Kahlo, Meret Oppenheim, and Dorothea Tanning, numerous as yet lesser-known artists from more than three decades of Surrealist art, such as Toyen, Alice Rahon, and Kay Sage, also await discovery. The exhibition features representative selections of works by each of the artists, while at the same time reflecting networks and friendships among the women artists in Europe, the US, and Mexico.
The exhibition was curated by Dr. Ingrid Pfeiffer at Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt, in cooperation with the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humblebæk. An exhibition catalogue is available.