North America represented a place free from European traditions for women Surrealists from the United States and Mexico, and émigrés fleeing war-torn Europe. While their male counterparts usually cast women as objects for their delectation and imagination, female Surrealists delved into their own subconscious and dreams. The knowledge they derived from such exploration empowered them to create extraordinary visual images, both personal and universal. Their art was primarily about identity: portraits, double portraits, couple portraits, self-portraits, self-referential images, and masquerades that demonstrate in deceptively straightforward as well as ambiguously abstract terms their trials and pleasures.
Arranged thematically, approximately 175 works in a variety of media date from 1931 to 1968. A handful of slightly later examples demonstrate Surrealism's historical overlap and influence on the feminist movement. Iconic figures such as Louise Bourgeois, Leonora Carrington, Frida Kahlo, Lee Miller, Kay Sage, Dorothea Tanning, and Remedios Varo are represented, along with lesser known or newly discovered practitioners, including Maya Deren, Helen Lundeberg, María Izquierdo, Jacqueline Lamba, and Janet Sobel.
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This exhibition was organized by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Museo de Arte Moderno, Mexico. It was made possible through a generous grant from the Terra Foundation for American Art.
The organizers are grateful for the special collaboration of the National Council for Culture and the Arts (Conaculta), Mexico, and National Institute of Fine Arts (INBA), Mexico.
The Los Angeles presentation was made possible in part by The Mr. and Mrs. Raymond J. Horowitz Foundation for the Arts and is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.