Monday, 27 July 2015

London Calling | Finding the feminine surreal

Remedios Varo,
Exploration of the Source of the Orinoco River,
1959
Monday, July 27th, 2015 -  You could be forgiven for thinking that there were no female Surrealists of note. Not one of André Breton’s highly choreographed promotional group photographs includes a woman, for instance. And yet, as Whitney Chadwick asserts in her pioneering study Women Artists and the Surrealist Movement, “no artistic movement since the Nineteenth Century has celebrated the idea of Woman as passionately as did Surrealism, and no group or movement has ever defined such a revolutionary role for her” (Whitney Chadwick, Women Artists and the Surrealist Movement, New York, 1985, inside front cover). In most cases, however, the stories of these strong revolutionary women have been lost in the retelling, and the women of Surrealism were often dismissed as adored muses first, artists second. Indeed, as Chadwick remarks: “we know more about Kiki of Montparnasse and Nadja than we do of Lee Miller and Valentine Hugo”!

A nascent interest in revisiting the major players behind the Surrealist art movement of the 20th Century has been seen in several successful museum exhibitions in recent years. These shows have challenged the prevailing art historical narrative that centers on male names such as Dali, Magritte and Ernst, and instead turned the spotlight on the pioneering female Surrealist artists.  This fall, Sotheby’s begs to differ. The auctioneers will present "Cherchez la femme: Women and Surrealism", an exciting selling exhibition that celebrates the female artists at the heart of the Surrealist movement. Few artistic movements afforded such a prolific and revolutionary role for women, yet scholars and collectors alike have largely defined Surrealism in terms of its male participants. In recent years, however, a series of key museum exhibitions and unprecedented auction results have signified a turning point in the collective legacy of these women and a renewed appreciation for their invaluable contributions to the Surrealist genre. Sotheby’s will bring together over 50 world-class examples by  international female Surrealists both famed and obscure, including works by Toyen, Kay Sage, Dorothea Tanning, Leonora Carrington, Remedies Varo, and more. With price points ranging from $5,000 to over $1 million, Cherchez la femme will introduce a new generation of collectors to the mysterious world of these extraordinary artists. The exhibition will open to the public in the York Avenue galleries on 15 September and will continue through 17 October 2015. Further info: www.sothebys.com.


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