somebody’s baby

The Surrealist movement was founded in Paris by a small group of writers and artists who sought to channel the unconscious as a means to unlock the power of the imagination. Disdaining rationalism and literary realism, and extensively influenced by Sigmund Freud, the Surrealists believed the conscious mind repressed the power of the imagination, weighing it down with taboos. Influenced also by Karl Marx, they hoped that the psyche had the power to reveal the contradictions in the everyday world and kick-start the revolutionary impulse. Their emphasis on the power of the imagination evidently placed them in the context  of Romanticism, but unlike these traditional romantics, they believed that revelations could be found on within the muck and grind of the new urban environment, the world outlined by Baudelaire and Rimbaud. This exercise of the subconscious, was also enhanced by embracing the collision of modernity with that of myth and primitivism.

Read More: —Perhaps it is because Frida’s pioneering style appeals to the female mind. She deals with acute emotions and expresses so vividly the agony and ecstasy of life. Frida frequently represented the anguish caused by her childhood polio, and the accident with a car that left her with irreparable spinal injuries and unable to have children. She committed to canvas the pain and love she felt during her on-off relationship with Diego (whom she married twice). —

…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 “‘

Works by women artists such as Frida Kahlo, Louise Bourgeois, and Elizabeth Murray are representations of femininity whose organic forms and stylistic peculiarities owe much to these “strangely aborted” Surrealist products. These characteristics are often described by post-modemist critics as narcissistic and fetishistic, yet these works deal directly with female body experience, sexuality, fruition, barrenness, and the quotidian facts of woman’s life.Read More:

Kahlo. Suicide of Dorothy Hale. 1939. source: Wiki


But, in its purest form, much of feminist theory rests upon no more than supposition–the range of which is limited only by the imaginations of its authors. Depending upon who is doing the writing, men dominate women because they hold women in contempt for their ability to bear children–or because they are jealous of women’s ability to bear children. Men oppress women because long ago women formed a powerful matriarchy which was overthrown–or because men have always been a tyrannical patriarchy. Gerda Lerner argues in her book, The Creation of Patriarchy, “Feminists, beginning with Simone de Beauvoir… [have explained women’s oppression] as caused by either male biology or male psychology.” She goes on to describe a sampling of feminist theories, all of which border on the outlandish:

Thus, Susan Brownmiller sees man’s ability to rape women leading to their propensity to rape women and shows how this has led to male dominance over women and to male supremacy. Elizabeth Fisher ingeniously argued that the domestication of animals…led men to the idea of raping women. She claimed that the brutalization and violence connected with animal domestication led to men’s sexual dominance and institutionalized aggression. More recently, Mary O’Brien built an elaborate explanation of The Origin of male dominance on men’s psychological need to compensate for their inability to bear children through the construction of institutions of dominance and, like Fisher, dated this “discovery” in the period of the discovery of animal domestication. Read More:

Read More: —Kahlo was deeply influenced by indigenous Mexican culture, which is apparent in her use of bright colors and dramatic symbolism. She frequently included the symbolic monkey. In Mexican mythology, monkeys are symbols of lust, yet Kahlo portrayed them as tender and protective symbols. Christian and Jewish themes are often depicted in her work. She combined elements of the classic religious Mexican tradition with surrealist renderings. At the invitation of Andre Breton, she went to France in 1939 and was featured at an exhibition of her paintings in Paris. The Louvre bought one of her paintings, The Frame, which was displayed at the exhibit. This was the first work by a 20th century Mexican artist ever purchased by the internationally renowned museum.—


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