When it comes to art history, generally speaking, women tend to be quite underrepresented. Creating the illusion that in fact, there were no feminine artists around in the past. For some reason, women tend to be pushed into the role of wife, muse or simply model, even though that image is far from correct. Because whoever takes the time to really study art history will quickly realise that women did indeed create and that somehow, their contribution has been shoved aside, leaving room only to men. Little by little people are trying to change that image and the French museum of Montmartre is the latest institution to get behind that cause.
On March 31st, an exposition called ‘Surréalisme au féminin?’ took off in the museum, which will be on show until September 10th. As its name suggest, the expo will focus on the role of women in the world famous art movement that was Surrealism. Names like Salvador Dalí, René Magritte or Pablo Picasso aren’t exactly strangers to most of us, but few are those who are acquainted with the works of Lee Miller, Grace Pailthorpe or Franciska Clausen – just to name a few. Nonetheless, there contribution to the movement can’t be overstated.
“A provocative and dynamic movement, Surrealism sparked significant aesthetic changes and an ethical revolution in the twentieth century. Men were not the only driving force behind Surrealism and its transgressive orientation: many women played a decisive role in the movement, but their works were neglected by museums and undervalued by the art market”, as states the Musée de Montmartre on its website.
To try and turn that around, the exposition ‘Surréalisme au féminin?’ will be showing 150 works from 50 different feminine artists.
“Surrealism provided these women artists and poets with opportunities for artistic expression and creativity that probably had no equivalent in the other avant-garde movements. However, their freedom often found expression via the appropriation and development of themes initiated by the movement’s founders. They also carved out their path by freeing themselves from the Surrealist doxa. They were both ‘within’ and ‘without’ the movement, close to and far from it. It is this complexity that the show hopes to capture”, reads the website.
The fact that the exposition takes place in Montmartre isn’t exactly a coincidence. For the Surrealism movement, the Parisian neighbourhood was like a headquarter, a strong place from which artists could start their creative process. The combination of the artistic population gathered there and the very recognizable yet so unique aesthetics of the quarter made it a place like no other for an artist to reside.