The exhibition Surréalisme au Féminin? will be presented from March 31 to September 10, 2023 at the Musée de Montmartre Jardins Renoir.
A provocative and dynamic movement, Surrealism sparked significant aesthetic changes and an ethical revolution in the twentieth century. Men were not the only driving force behind Surrealism and its transgressive orientation: many women played a decisive role in the movement, but their works were neglected by museums and undervalued by the art market.
The Musée de Montmartre is holding an exhibition that explores the extent and various forms of involvement of female artists and poets in the Surrealist movement. The exhibition itinerary will feature fifty of these women, along with almost 150 works.
The exhibition will present major artists, such as Claude Cahun, Toyen, Dora Maar, Lee Miller, Meret Oppenheim, and Leonora Carrington, and highlight other, less well-known, figures such as Marion Adnams, Ithell Colquhoun, Grace Pailthorpe, Jane Graverol, Suzanne Van Damme, Rita Kernn-Larsen, Franciska Clausen, Josette Exandier, and Yahne Le Toumelin.
Surrealism provided these women artists and poets with opportunities for artistic expression and creativity that probably had no equivalent in the other avant-garde movements. However, their freedom often found expression via the appropriation and development of themes initiated by the movement’s founders. They also carved out their path by freeing themselves from the Surrealist doxa. ‘They were both ‘within’ and ‘without’ the movement, close to and far from it. It is this complexity that the show hopes to capture.
The emancipation of these women through the practice of their art echoes the quest for independence and the spirit of contestation that are so characteristic of Montmartre’s history. This exhibition underlines my absolute determination to present works by artists who have often been overlooked in the history of art. " Fanny de Lépinau, Director of the Musée de Montmartre
The Surrealist community was undeniably fascinated by Montmartre. It was a district in which the Surrealists roamed, lived, and dreamed—a place of popular fantasies and entertainment. Aragon celebrated Montmartre as a ‘sort of melting pot of the imagination where the worst conventions and the basest literature merge with the reality of desires, the simplicity of desires, and what is most free and inalienable in me, and in man’. And André Breton was attracted to the Butte’s geographical position and the panoramic views it provided of the capital: ‘You have to climb to the top of the hill of Sacré-Coeur early in the morning to see Paris, slowly emerging from her splendid veils before stretching out her arms’.
Alix Agret, art historian
Dominique Païni, independent curator
Saskia Ooms, head of Conservation of the Musée de Montmartre