l’amour fou: abstract extreme ambivalence

Surrealism as an inherently anti-woman movement? The female body viewed as primitive machines designed socially,psychologically and mechanically to carry out primitive functions.This intensity and dept of a response to women was a rupture with traditional figurative art, a certain appropriation of the fauvist instinctive and self-reflexive element; the hopeful discovery the real , the true self within the medium and beyond to the emotionally engulfing experience of which violence to observed reality, including women, was part of the collateral damage in this metaphor for, in part, a sexual tourism. Ironically, this was a new-old form of western art, a reflection of confrontation of the individual with technology, a new consumer society, and the degrading sexuality of the whorehouse. Trauma is the only way to depict a decadent irrationality founded on the shaky foundation of sexual madness and terror.

The love-hate dynamic has a literary counterpart in the dissolving and distorted romanticism of a D.H. Lawrence where women are fetish objects on a pedestal or their vaginas are man devouring venus fly traps. It seems apparent that the surrealists had no desire to heal or master their sexual obsessions into something more wholesome, but rather to glorify and incubate all neuroses, anxiety and hysteria in order to create artwork. Its hardly a revelation that the most well known paintings reinforce objectification and degradation under the aegis of the noble cause of tapping into the lower level of consciousness: the sense of inferiority that dangles between their legs. Bretons menu of surrealism can be seen as a dissociated splitting off of a side Fascists, and the Nazis did not want to see, calling it degenerate, but in effect perceiving women as inmates in a joy division.

---One interpretation of surrealist photographs of female nudes from the 1920s and 1930s suggests that these freedoms did not fully extend to women, who seemed to be exploited in the service of the male Surrealist. The Surrealists may have appropriated the misogyny inherent in Freudian theory, although Freud seemed to dislike both woman and men when he said: “I have found little that is good about human beings on the whole. In my experience, most of them are trash”.1 Reliant as the Surrealists were on Freud’s theories, central to which was the psychological spectre of castration, it seems inevitable that misogyny would be a feature of surrealist thought and art. If Surrealism relies on the unconscious as its reservoir of thought, and this is where repressed desire and crude male fantasies of women are likely to be found, it would not be surprising if they surfaced in surrealist photographs. While some women photographers of the period produced surrealist images (Lee Miller, Eileen Agar, and Claude Cahun), there are few indications of any artistic response to misogyny, with one exception: Lee Miller’s photograph of a severed breast (a mastectomy) served up in a domestic setting. There are many surrealist photographs that can easily be read as misogynistic: Kertesz’s Distortion series, Raoul Ubac’s solarized collages (e.g., Battle of the Amazons), Hans Bellmer’s Poupée series, Boiffard’s nudes, and Man Ray’s decapitated female torsos. Breton’s photomontage L’Ecriture Automatique, has an admiring woman caged in the background while Breton fiddles with a microscope.--- Read More:http://keithguy.wordpress.com/misogyny-in-photography-of-the-surrealists/

The male Surrealists passionately desired woman’s ability to bear children, which is why they desired woman. Indeed. I would argue that much of Surrealism is an attempt to appropriate woman’s power to give birth by every treacherous means possible. Much Surrealist imagery can be understood as the product of a false pregnancy—a strangely aborted product from a female point of view. —Donald Kuspit “‘

---Turning to a highly regarded, but lesser-known work, André Masson's "Gradiva" depicts a woman whose stomach and pelvis has been transformed into a raw steak, and her vagina into a rather menacing looking clam equipped with what looks like a set of fangs. Her half-rotting body has attracted a swarm of bees. Behind the supine woman is an erupting volcano, no doubt symbolizing the menace of female sexuality. Based on a character in a 1903 novella that Freud had analyzed, the figure represents unconscious desire and all the other psychoanalytic boilerplate. The catalog solemnly declares that Masson's grotesque figure represented "male longing and displaced desire."--- Read More:http://www.columbia.edu/~lnp3/mydocs/culture/breton.htm


Some idiots just can’t grasp the notion of metamorphosis; so distorsion is then simply equal to violence; any representation of the female body diverging from realism corresponds to physical assault – such a refusal to think need perhaps not be seriously argued against. Much of Ray’s work and perhaps most of Bellmer’s are simply investigations of the metamorphic potential of the matter, and special way of being matter, of the heavily desire-infested female body; thus of erotic and imaginational phenomenology and not about social expectancies on behavior of women. The references to sexual violence in Bellmer are secondary to that fantasizing; obviously so in gory drawings or bondage photographs where uninhibited morphological curiosity simply doesn’t recognise realistic restrictions, but in another way in some of the doll photographs, which integrate external associations to the forbiddenness of the particular type of fetishism and makes them part of the fantasy itself. “Irresponsible” and sometimes perhaps disgusting, sure, but still on the conditions of imagination and without implications for the real position of real women on the whole. Read More:http://www.surrealistgruppen.org/surrwomen.html

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