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) was a 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]
  • Eileen Forrester Agar (1899–1991) was 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) was a Belgian painter, who from 1929 onwards was a member of the Surrealist group around René Magritte.
  • Emmy Bridgwater (1906–1999) was an English artist and poet associated with the Surrealist movement.
  • Leonora Carrington (1917–2011) was a 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.[4]
  • Ithell Colquhoun (1906–1988) was a 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.[4]
  • Valentine Hugo (1887–1968), was an illustrator and married to Jean Hugo, she participated in the Surrealist movement between 1930 and 1936.
  • Frida Kahlo (1907-1954) was a Mexican painter claimed by Breton as surrealist, though Kahlo herself rejected the label.
  • Greta Knutson (1899-1983) was a Swedish artist and writer who pursued surrealism while married to Tristan Tzara in the 1930s.
  • Maruja Mallo (1902-1995) was a Spanish painter whose painting in the 1930s was influenced by Surrealism.
  • Margaret Modlin (1927 – 1998) was an American surrealist painter, sculptor and photographer who spent most of her adult life in Spain.
  • Manon Potvin (1968 – ) is a French/Canadian artist and prose poet. Surrealist painter of fantastic art in nature scenes.
  • Alice Rahon (1904–1987) was a French/Mexican poet and artist. Her work contributed to the beginning of Abstract Expressionism in Mexico.
  • Kay Sage (1898–1963) began painting surrealist landscapes in the late 1930s, met and married fellow surrealist Yves Tanguy in 1940.[4]
  • Eva Švankmajerová (1940-2005) was a 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) was an 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.
  • 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), was a Czech painter, draftsperson and illustrator and a member of the Surrealist movement.
  • Remedios Varo (1908–1963), a Spaniard who moved to Mexico, was known for her dreamlike paintings of scientific apparatus. She was married to the Surrealist poet Benjamin Peret.[4][5]


  • Elisa Breton (1906-2000) was a Chilean-born French artist and writer. The third wife of André Breton, she made surrealist boxes.
  • Méret Oppenheim (1913–1985) was a German-Swiss sculptor and photographer, also famous as one of Man Ray's models. Her most famous sculpture is Object (Breakfast in Fur), a teacup, saucer and spoon completely encased in soft brown fur.[4]
  • Mimi Parent (1924-2005) was a Canadian artist described by Breton as one of the "vital forces" of Surrealism. Her 'picture objects' were hybrids between painting and sculpture.


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




See also[edit]


  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. ^ a b c d e Heller, Nancy G., Women Artists: An Illustrated History, Abbeville Press, Publishers, New York 1987 ISBN 0-89659-748-2
  5. ^ Kaplan, Janet A. Unexpected Journeys: The Art and Life of Remedios Varo, Abbeville Press, New York 1988 ISBN 0-89659-797-0
  6. ^ [1], Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Art and Fashion of Elsa Schiaparelli, (2003)
  7. ^ 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. 
  8. ^ Melanie Nicholson (2013). Surrealism in Latin American Literature: Searching for Breton's Ghost. Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 100–1. ISBN 978-1-137-31761-2. 
  9. ^ 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.