Exhibition challenges the male dominance of the Surrealist movement by presenting heavyweight female artists, including many Jewish surrealists who used art to explore spirituality, psychology and trauma.
By Sammy Loren Haaretz, 21.02.12
From Andre Breton in the 1920s until the disciples of Salvador Dali in the 1960s, the Surrealist art movement probed the subconscious through dreams and imagination in an attempt to liberate its practitioners and their audiences. It is no wonder, then, that it appealed to Jews who fled Europe in search of freedom in the New World.
Though surrealism critiqued institutions of marriage, family and power, men dominated the movement. “In Wonderland: Surrealist Adventures of Women Artists,” currently on display at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, aims to belatedly challenge that dominance. Highlighting surrealism in the United States and Mexico, it showcases heavyweights like Frida Kahlo and Helen Lundeberg, but also includes many female Jewish surrealists, such as Rose Mandel, Kati Horna, Ruth Bernhard and others who used Surrealist art to explore spirituality, psychology and trauma.
The women included in the LACMA exhibition pushed the boundaries of what constituted art and womanhood, and, as the catalog for “In Wonderland” says, they “empowered women and encouraged the rise of the feminist movement.” While few Jewish women surrealists directly addressed their ethnicity, much of their work responded to themes coming from their "Jewishness," such as alienation, identity and displacement.
Photo:Ruth Bernhard, a commentary on the marginal status of sexual minorities and immigrants -
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