Women surrealists

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Remedios Varo, Exploration of the Source of the Orinoco River, 1959.

Women Surrealists are women artists, photographers, filmmakers and authors connected with the surrealist movement, which began in the early 1920s.


  • Gertrude Abercrombie (1909–1977), Chicago artist inspired by the Surrealists, who became prominent in the 1930s and 1940s. She was also involved with the jazz music scene and was friends with musicians such as Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, and Sarah Vaughan.[1][2]
  • Marion Adnams (1898–1995), English painter, printmaker, and draughtswoman, notable for her surrealist paintings.
  • Eileen Forrester Agar (1899–1991), born in Argentina and moved to Britain in childhood. She was prominent among British surrealists; Agar made intricate collages and paintings of abstract organic shapes.[3]
  • Rachel Baes (1912–1983), Belgian painter, who from 1929 onwards was a member of the Surrealist group around René Magritte.
  • Fanny Brennan (1921–2001), painter; grew up in the world of art spending time with Gerald and Sara Murphy and Pablo Picasso. She was featured in two shows in 1941 in the Wakefield Bookshop gallery. As well as she had three solo exhibits in 1973 and a book published of her work in 1990.[4]
  • Emmy Bridgwater (1906–1999), English artist and poet associated with the Surrealist movement.[5]
  • Leonora Carrington (1917–2011), British-born Mexican Surrealist painter. She met the Surrealist Max Ernst in 1937, and had a painful and complicated relationship with him. Much of her work is autobiographical.[6]
  • Ithell Colquhoun (1906–1988), British Surrealist painter and author.
  • Leonor Fini (1907–1996), born in Buenos Aires and raised in Trieste, met the Surrealists in 1936 but never officially joined. She paints startling images, often with sphinxes or apparitions.[6]
  • Jane Graverol (1905–1985), Belgian surrealist painter.
  • Valentine Hugo (1887–1968), illustrator and married to Jean Hugo, she participated in the Surrealist movement between 1930 and 1936.
  • Frida Kahlo (1907–1954), Mexican painter claimed by Breton as surrealist, though Kahlo herself rejected the label.[7]
  • Rita Kernn-Larsen (1904–1998), Danish painter.
  • Greta Knutson (1899–1983), Swedish artist and writer who pursued surrealism while married to Tristan Tzara in the 1930s.
  • Jacqueline Lamba (1910–1993), French painter, married (1934–1943) to André Breton.
  • Maruja Mallo (1902–1995), Galician Spanish avant-garde artist whose painting in the 1930s was influenced by Surrealism.
  • Margaret Modlin (1927–1998), American surrealist painter, sculptor and photographer who spent most of her adult life in Spain.
  • Grace Pailthorpe (1883–1971), British surrealist painter, surgeon, and psychology researcher.[8]
  • Alice Rahon (1904–1987), French/Mexican poet and artist. Her work contributed to the beginning of Abstract Expressionism in Mexico.
  • Edith Rimmington (1902–1986), British artist and photographer
  • Penelope Rosemont (born 1942), writer and painter joined the surrealist group in Paris, 1965 and met Andre Breton. In Chicago she and her friends organized an active surrealist group linked with the Breton group. Her painting was shown in the 1986 Venice Biennale.
  • Kay Sage (1898–1963), began painting surrealist landscapes in the late 1930s, met and married fellow surrealist Yves Tanguy in 1940.[6]
  • Ángeles Santos Torroella (1911–2013), Catalan-Spanish painter with an interesting surrealist early stage.
  • Eva Švankmajerová (1940–2005), Czech painter, ceramicist and writer. She collaborated with her husband Jan Švankmajer on films such as Alice, Faust and Conspirators of Pleasure.
  • Dorothea Tanning (1910–2012), American painter, sculptor, printmaker, writer, and poet, whose early work was influenced by Surrealism. She became part of the circle of Surrealists in New York in the 1940s, and was married to fellow Surrealist Max Ernst for 30 years.[9]
  • Alina Szapocznikow (1926–1973), Polish sculptor and Holocaust survivor, who spent time in Paris in the late 1940s and was exposed to the work of Jean Arp and Alberto Giacometti, among other artists connected to Surrealism. Her sculptures evidenced an interest in the Surrealist distortion of the human body.
  • Bridget Bate Tichenor (1917–1990), born in Paris and of British descent, she later embraced Mexico as her home. Surrealist painter of fantastic art in the school of magic realism and a fashion editor.
  • Toyen (1902–1980), Czech painter, draftsperson and illustrator and a member of the Surrealist movement.
  • Remedios Varo (1908–1963), Catalan-Spanish surrealist painter who moved to Mexico, she was known for her dreamlike paintings of scientific apparatus. She was married to the Surrealist poet Benjamin Peret.[6][10]



  • Claude Cahun (1894–1954), born Lucy Renee Mathilde Schwob, French photographer and writer, associated with the surrealist movement.
  • Nusch Éluard (1906–1946), French photographer, performer and model.
  • Henriette Grindat (1923–1986), one of the few Swiss women to develop an interest in artistic photography, associating with André Breton and later collaborating with Albert Camus.
  • Kati Horna (1912–2000), born Kati Deutsch, Hungarian-born Mexican photojournalist, surrealist photographer and teacher.
  • Ida Kar (1908–1974), Russian-born photographer who lived and worked in Paris, Cairo and London.
  • Dora Maar (1907–1997), Croatian-born French photographer who had a nine-year relationship with Pablo Picasso.
  • Emila Medková (1928–1985), Czech photographer who began producing surrealistic works in 1947, above all remarkable documentary images of the urban environment.
  • Lee Miller (1907–1977), American photographer, photojournalist and model.
  • Marcel Moore (1892–1972), born Suzanne Alberte Malherbe, French illustrator, designer, writer and photographer.
  • Francesca Woodman (1958–1981), American photographer who explored the relationship between the body and its surroundings.


Fashion designers[edit]



See also[edit]


  • Allmer, Patricia (ed.) (2009) Angels of Anarchy: Women Artists and Surrealism, London and Manchester: Prestel and Manchester Art Gallery.
  • Allmer, Patricia (ed.) (2016) Intersections: Women Artists/Surrealism/Modernism, Manchester: Manchester University Press.
  • Allmer, Patricia (2016) ‘Revising the Canon: Feminist Interventions’, in Blackwell Companion to Dada and Surrealism, ed. David Hopkins, London: Blackwell.
  • Rosemont, Penelope, edited and introduced. (1998) “Surrealist Women: An International Anthology”, Austin: University of Texas Press.


  1. ^ Richard Vine, "Where the Wild Things Were", Art in America, May 1997, pp. 98–111
  2. ^ Warren, Lynn, Art in Chicago 1945–1995, Thames & Hudson, 1996 ISBN 978-0-500-23728-1
  3. ^ Colvile, Georgiana, Scandaleusement d'elles: trente-quatre femmes surréalistes, Jean-Michel Place, Paris, 1999 ISBN 978-2-85893-496-6
  4. ^ Holland Cotter. "Fanny Brennan, Surrealist, 80; Lived in Paris". The New York Times.
  5. ^ Freeman, Laura (26 February 2020). "British Surrealism review, Dulwich Picture Gallery: what a lot of waffle". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 3 April 2020.
  6. ^ a b c d e Heller, Nancy G., Women Artists: An Illustrated History, Abbeville Press, Publishers, New York 1987 ISBN 0-89659-748-2
  7. ^ "The inconvenient spectacle of Frida Kahlo". Culture. 4 January 2019. Archived from the original on 6 January 2019. Retrieved 3 April 2020.
  8. ^ correspondent, Mark Brown Arts (19 August 2018). "Surrealist exhibition celebrates creators of 'goofiest paintings' in London". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 3 April 2020.
  9. ^ Feigel, Lara (8 February 2019). "Dangerous appetites: the weird, wild world of Dorothea Tanning". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 3 April 2020.
  10. ^ Kaplan, Janet A. Unexpected Journeys: The Art and Life of Remedios Varo, Abbeville Press, New York 1988 ISBN 0-89659-797-0
  11. ^ [1] Archived 29 May 2008 at the Wayback Machine, Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Art and Fashion of Elsa Schiaparelli, (2003)
  12. ^ Fiona Joy Mackintosh (2003). Childhood in the Works of Silvina Ocampo and Alejandra Pizarnik. Tamesis Books. pp. 130–1. ISBN 978-1-85566-095-3.
  13. ^ Melanie Nicholson (2013). Surrealism in Latin American Literature: Searching for Breton's Ghost. Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 100–1. ISBN 978-1-137-31761-2.
  14. ^ Franklin Rosemont; Robin D.G. Kelley (2009). Black, Brown, & Beige: Surrealist Writings from Africa and the Diaspora. University of Texas Press. p. 141. ISBN 978-0-292-71997-2.
  15. ^ Penelope Rosemont (1 December 2000). Surrealist Women, An International Anthology. USA: The University of Texas Press. pp. 88–90. ISBN 9780567171283. Retrieved 20 February 2017.