From 1919 to 1920, she attended UMPRŮM (the School of Decorative Arts) in Prague. She worked closely with fellow Surrealist poet and artist Jindřich Štyrský until his death. They joined the Devětsil group in 1923 and exhibited with the group. In the early 1920s she travelled to Paris, and soon returned there with Štyrský. While living in Paris, the two founded an artistic alternative to Abstraction and Surrealism, which they dubbed Artificialism. They returned to Prague in 1928.
She referred to herself in the masculine case. Her sketches, book illustrations, and paintings were frequently erotic. She contributed erotic sketches for Styrsky's Erotika Revue (1930–33) on several occasions. Erotic Revue published on strict subscription terms based on a circulation of 150 copies. The sixth and last edition was called Edice 69 (sic!). She also illustrated Marquis de Sade's Justine of which Styrsky was the Czech publisher.
Toyen and Štyrský gradually grew more interested in Surrealism. After their associates Vítězslav Nezval and Jindřich Honzl met André Breton in Paris, they founded the Czech Surrealist Group along with other artists, writers, and the composer Jaroslav Ježek.
Forced underground during the Nazi occupation and Second World War, she and her second artistic partner, Jindřich Heisler, fled to Paris before the Communist takeover of Czechoslovakia (1948). She worked with Breton, Benjamin Péret, and other surrealists. During the war she and Styrsky offered shelter from German persecution for four years in her bathroom to Heisler (who joined the Czech Surrealist Group in 1938), who was Jewish. Heisler joined them in their refuge in Paris in 1948.
- Huebner, Karla Tonine. "Eroticism, Identity, and Cultural Context: Toyen and the Prague Avant-garde." Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh, 2008.