‘Angels of Anarchy’ Women and Surrealism Exhibition

I went to see this exhibition yesterday at Manchester City Art Gallery.  Surrealism challenges  the order and acceptance of everything.  Logic is turned upside down, inside out, new meanings come into being from unlikely juxtapositions thereby making new art.  Surrealism began in the 1920s led by Andre Breton and fellow writers and artists (including Dali).

the surrealist 1930 -1 a mans world

the surrealist 1930 -1 a mans world

As can be seen from the original surrealists – it was a man’s world.  Women associated with the artists were usually, girlfriends, wives or muses and they still held submissive roles….  All that was set to change though as women tried to establish themselves as artists instead of models or props.  Untapped and untried talent began to rise to the surface and given freedom of expression succeeded in transforming these former  muses  into artist’s in their own right.

Diego and me by Frida Kahlo, I found this rather touching

Diego and me by Frida Kahlo, I found this rather touching

A double portrait of Frida Kahlo and her husband  Diego Rivera was the first piece I looked at.  This a painting in oil on wood set in an icon frame.  The face is made up of half of each others face, painted in pinkish/coral and edged with shells.  Though garish, there is something very sweet and romantic about it, like it was made with love.

angel of anarchy by eileen agar

angel of anarchy by eileen agar

The title of the exhibition ‘Angels of Anarchy’ was taken from a piece of work by Eileen Agar.  Made between 1936 – 40, this head  (one of four, but only two survive) is veiled or swathed in  many different fabrics.  It is a puzzling piece, both passive yet defiant.  There is mystery between these layers.  A sphinx with a secret.  The piece is also very tactile, with the velvet, raised stitching and beads – intriguing.

Leonora Carrington, one of the many women artists featured

Leonora Carrington, one of the many women artists featured

Amongst the many themes are the photographs, which must take star place.  Especially interesting are the photographs these women took of each other.   They gaze frankly into the camera, they are not trying to be anything, they just are.  The close friendship between the women shows through.  They are all struggling towards the same cause, not competing with each other.

Lee miller by Man Ray, check out her photographs!

Lee miller by Man Ray, check out her photographs!

There are quite a number of Lee Miller’s photographs.  Miller, former model and muse to Man Ray became famous as a photographer and produced many powerful pictures.  Lots of Leonora Fini’s work too.  Fini, a cat lover incorporated hybrids of these creatures in her paintings.  This one, ‘Petit Sphinx Hermite’ 1948 includes a sphinx like creature.  She believed that Sphinx’s provided a bridge from this world to the unconscious mind.

Little Hermit sphinx leonora fini

Little Hermit sphinx leonora fini

Claude Cahun’s photography is concerned with identity, gender and masks.  Her material is absolutely fascinating and mostly auto biographical.

 

Claude Cahun, concerned with identity and gender

Claude Cahun, concerned with identity and gender

Other themes are ‘still lives’ and women’s spaces.  These spaces do not lie in the home.  Indeed in some photo’s or paintings, rooms are depicted as empty.  Also there are lots of references to birds and cages.  In fact, there was displayed, a head in a cage and a bird trying to get in!  The cleared room also may act as a metaphor for an uncluttered mind, a space to think (without the chores of domesticity?).

a little night music by Dorothea Tanning 1946

a little night music by Dorothea Tanning 1946

Everyone has heard of Merret Oppenheimer (and her fur cup and saucer) there are quite a few not so known pieces in the exhibition by her.  But Mimi Parent,  (1924 – 2005 Canada) I hadn’t heard of before.     Her work has a fetish element to it.  A whip made from hair for example……  Here’s another work by hair (not in the exhibition).  Oh there is so much more to be seen!  Go and enjoy!

mimi parent, interesting: man/woman with a pearl tie pin

mimi parent, interesting: man/woman with a pearl tie pin

Please go if you possibly can, to this wonderful celebration of women surrealist.  Information HERE

Penny Slinger:   A contemporary surrealist.  For the background of this interesting artist click HERE

HERE’S Germaine Greer’s take on Women Surrealist artists…………..

Another of my post about beiing out and about Manchester: ‘Mr Thomas’s Chop House’ HERE

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9 Responses to “‘Angels of Anarchy’ Women and Surrealism Exhibition”

  1. [...] And what about the Women Surrealists?  Read my review of the ‘Angels of Anarchy’ exhibition HERE [...]

  2. [...] Of course it’s not all drinking and eating you know!  We do take in an exhibition from time to time.  Read my review of ‘Angels of Anarchy’ at Manchester City Art Gallery HERE [...]

  3. anniekisster Says:

    I loved this exhibition, it really did affect me. Enjoyed reading this too. Have done a write up myself, though entirely on how it affected me, and not on the exhibition itself like this. Great read, thanks.

  4. Me too Anniekisster, thanks for commenting, I will look at your experience. Thanks to those women – we can channel those experiences – let the bells ring out and find their echos, I say!
    kind regards
    Lynda

  5. Love the works of Mimi Parent. I just recently discovered her whilst visiting Tate Modern. Fantastic stuff.

  6. Me too Kait! Sadly she died in 2005. I thought I’d heard of all the women surrealists – but first time for me. Thanks for visiting!

  7. [...] It was National Museum day 1st February.  I followed the Tate Modern London, Tate Liverpool, Dox Prague and Beamish.  But you don’t have to wait for a special day to support museums – you can support them any time and the best way is to actually visit them.  I love popping into the Manchester City Gallery when ever I’m in town.  The last exhibition was ‘Women and Anarchy (women Surrealists) which I wrote about HERE. [...]

  8. [...] did not appreciate the politics behind the Surrealist Movement. She found the group homophobic and prejudiced despite its longing to idealize women and liberate [...]

  9. [...] did not appreciate the politics behind the Surrealist Movement. She found the group homophobic and prejudiced despite its longing to idealize women and liberate [...]

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