Monday, 22 July 2013

Artist Spotlight: Toyen


Marie Cerminova, who took on the pseudonym Toyen when she was 21, is, in my opinion, the most important woman in Czech Surrealism. And yet she is shockingly unknown even among Art Historians (at least in Germany), it seems. Let´s change that, shall we?

I apologize to all Czechs in advance for the oversimplified letters. I would use the correct ones - if I could find them…

Phantom object 1937

She was born 1902 in Prag and joined the Avantgarde-Group “Devetsil” in 1923 which later became the Czech Surrealist movement. She was in contact with the French Surrealists as well and took part in almost all the most important events and exhibitions. Even during  the occupation by the Nazis from 1939-1946 she still created paintings and even hid her colleague Heisler in her home. She was calling herself a Surrealist even after the disbanding of the movement in 1969 and until her death in 1980.

Shooting Gallery 1940

While, as I already wrote, she is in fact not a Horror-Artist, but a Surrealist, her paintings and drawings definitely have an element of “spooky calmness” to them, since – among other things – it was the intention of the Surrealist movement to alienate or even shock the viewer with what s/he sees, plus, her main motives are the war and sexuality. Something shocking is bound to be found.

Paravent 1966

After the performance 1943
Message of the forest 1936


Weiss, Judith Elisabeth; Byzovska, Lenka a.o.: "Chronologie Paris-Prag 1919-1969"
Debatin, Sarah; Guntrum, Anja a.o.:"Biografien"
in: "Gegen jede Vernunft, Surrealismus Paris-Prag"

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