Surrealist Women

12 Jan — 1 Apr 2017 at the Mayoral in Barcelona, Spain

Surrealist Women, Exhibition view. Courtesy of Mayoral
Surrealist Women, Exhibition view. Courtesy of Mayoral
15 MAR 2017

Mayoral presents in Barcelona the exhibition “Surrealist Women and their connection with Catalonia”, curated by art historian and art critic Victoria Combalía. It is the first time in the whole Spanish State that a show on this topic is held. It has been made possible thanks to loans by private collectors, the Lee Miller Archives, the Successió Miró, and the MNAC (Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya).

The show includes a score of artworks by eight surrealist women artists: Valentine Hugo, Maruja Mallo, Lee Miller, Frida Kahlo, Dora Maar, Remedios Varo, Ángeles Santos and Leonora Carrington.

This exhibition wishes to be an act of recognition of these surrealist artists, who on this occasion have been selected for having had some sort of connection with Catalonia; an aspect never dealt with before, but which will surely be studied in years to come.

Valentine Hugo travelled to Cadaqués with André Breton, who was then her lover, in order to visit the Dalís; there, together with them, she drew some Cadavres exquis, collective drawings.

Maruja Mallo y Remedios Varo participated in the “Exposició Logicofobista” that took place in 1936 in Barcelona. By Maruja Mallo we show two later works created during her exile in Latin America. Mujer o el espíritu de la noche (Woman or the Spirit of the Night) (1952), by Remedios Varo, is a piece of great visual impact that exemplifies the surrealist concept of woman as sorceress and mysterious being.

Lee Miller, lover of Man Ray and excellent photographer, travelled to Barcelona on many occasions with her husband, the art historian Roland Penrose, where she took photographs of Joan Miró and Antoni Tàpies. From her surrealist period, we exhibit her renowned Portrait of Joseph Cornell (1933), and Portrait of Space (1937).

It is not known whether the Mexican FRIDA KAHLO ever came to Catalonia, but she did have a passionate affair with the Catalan illustrator and painter Josep Bartolí. We show here three of her drawings, absolutely unpublished in our country. In one of them, Autorretrato como genitales (Self-portrait as Genitals) (1944), she sees herself as an utterly sexual being.

In this exhibition there is also an oil painting and a wide selection of photographs by DORA MAAR. Many of these pictures were taken on the occasion of her visit to Catalonia in 1933, and among them Femmes et trois enfants devant les baraques en planches au Somorrostro (Women and Three Children in front of the Somorrostro Wooden Shacks) stands out.

The Catalan Ángeles Santos painted the oneiric Alma que huye de un sueño (Soul Fleeing a Dream), whose topic is entirely surrealist. Also on display, there is a preparatory drawing for her famous painting Un mundo (A World), currently at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía de Madrid.

Finally Leonora Carrington, who painted in the surrealist style throughout her whole artistic career, crossed Catalonia fleeing Nazism.

Apart from those by Kahlo, there are also other totally unpublished works, like those by Valentine Hugo, among which we would like to highlight Portrait of Picasso (n.d.) and Cadavre exquis (1929), created in collaboration with André Breton and Greta Knutson.

The exhibition also has a documentation section, where the original poster: ADLAN, Grup Logicofobista, Galeria Catalonia, lent on the occasion by the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya (MNAC), is displayed. Likewise, a series of portraits of Frida Kahlo by the photographer Nickolas Muray, can also be admired.