Rachel Cohen

Stepping out of the Shadows

The Militant Muse: Love, War and the Women of Surrealism

By

Thames & Hudson 256pp £24.95 order from our bookshop

When people write condensed accounts of Surrealism, they generally refer to the best-known figures: André Breton, the magnetic and sometimes authoritarian self-proclaimed leader of the movement; Max Ernst, one of its most powerful painters and creators of collages and sculptures, his figures monstrous and hybrid; Man Ray, photographer of smoothness and celebrity; Antonin Artaud, with his brilliantly incendiary view of the theatre. They talk about Paris in the 1920s, about experimentation with automatic writing and new techniques of making films. They mention the psychological distress of surviving the First World War and the way these artists offered a more emotional, less detached stance than Cubism did; the Surrealists were more politically revolutionary than their Cubist counterparts. It is widely recognised that figures such as Marcel Duchamp, who was associated with Surrealism, though not exactly a canonical member, opened up important new avenues for art. Happenings, installations, mixed media work, ready-mades, art films, performance pieces – all of these draw significantly on practices developed by the Surrealists. 

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • The entertaining Howard Jacobson is in conversation with Prof John Mullan at the Queen’s Park Book Festival on Sund… ,
    • 'A modest and retiring man, Thompson spent his life describing apple varieties and recommending the best – Ribston… ,
    • 'Macfarlane is a poet with the instincts of a thriller writer, an autodidact in botany, mycology, geology and palae… ,
    • 'Some scholars attribute Shakespeare’s pre-eminence to four centuries of propaganda and not to the fact that Hamlet… ,
    • RT : We would appreciate any retweets ,
    • We've just stumbled on a gem from the LR archive. The emoluments page from May 1995, in which one reviewer asked to… ,
    • Unlike Mary Shelley's monstrous creation, Jeanette Winterson's Frankenstein-inspired novel feels 'barely alive', sa… ,