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Frida Kahlo, “The Little Deer” (1946)
Frida Kahlo, “The Little Deer” (1946)Photography Nathan_Keay, courtesy MCA Chicago

This new exhibition celebrates the women of the surrealist movement

Fantastic Women addresses the gap in representation of female surrealists and features 260 works by 34 artists across the world

“In no other artistic avant-garde movement have women played as important a role and been present in as large numbers as in sur­rea­lism,” says Kirsten Degel, curator at Louisiana Museum of Modern Art. A major new exhibition at the Copenhagen museum which brings together over 260 works by 34 international female surrealists, from Europe, the US, and Mexico. 

Emerging in the lascivious and liberated atmosphere of Paris in the 1920s, surrealism was born in the wake of the devastation wrought by World War I; from the active search to find new ways to live and new modes of spirituality. Freud’s revelatory concepts of the unconscious mind and the dreamscape inspired practices of self-exploration and artistic experimentation, and his notion of the uncanny permeated the work of this new school of otherworldly art. Sexual desire and the female form was also a central motif but, while women were recurringly represented as subjects in the work, the female surrealists themselves were never as visible as their male peers. While artists such as Rene Magritte, Salvador Dalí, Joan Miró, Man Ray, and Max Ernst have entered the canon, the contribution of women is, with the rare exception, significantly less well recognised. 

This major survey of female surrealists – the first overall presentation of its kind – celebrates the women at the forefront of this avant-garde movement. Including Meret Oppenheim, Louise Bourgeois, Claude Cahun, Leonora Carrington, Dora Maar, Lee Miller, Kay Sage, Maya Deren and Frida Kahlo, Fantastic Women highlights how significant vast the contribution of women was to surrealism, not simply as muses, but as practising, active artists.

Fantastic Women – Surreal Worlds from Meret Oppenheim to Frida Kahlo runs at Louisiana Museum of Modern Art until 8 November 2020 

Learn more about some of the artists included here