13. Feb. – 5. July 2020 Digitorial® for the Exhibition

Nothing is absolute. Everything changes, everything moves, everything revolves, everything flies and goes away.

Frida Kahlo

Surrealism is a state of mind! It's not a style. Just as diverse as the movement’s representatives is the range of themes with which the Surrealists rebelled against the bourgeoisie, the state, politics or the Church through the medium of art. The Surrealists met regularly in Paris during the 1920s, composed manifestos, published newspapers. They discussed political developments as well as psychoanalysis, a new concept at the time, and used its findings as impulses for changing society through different artistic mediums. Meanwhile, their ideas spread throughout Europe and North and Central America. Now, through 34 female artists from 11 countries, the SCHIRN is shedding light for the first time on the contribution women made to Surrealism up until the 1970s.


The term “surreal” was coined by poet Guillaume Apollinaire as long ago as 1920 within the context of the Dada movement. Yet it was the “First Manifesto of Surrealism” by André Breton that really laid the literary and philosophical foundations for this movement in 1924. Breton had been a paramedic on the Western front during the World War I and had therefore witnessed the horrors of war first-hand. He was searching for a new attitude to life that matched the spirit of the time, and he found inspiration in the nascent field of psychoanalysis pioneered by Sigmund Freud. At the same time, he was able to draw on artistic trends of the 19th century, such as Romanticism with its search for a new way into reality and its dream-like, visionary elements. Breton and the artists who surrounded him from various genres including film, theater, literature, art, but also philosophy and fashion, were attempting to probe the secret desires, longings and instincts of human beings in order to tap into the subconscious. They thus aimed to create an absolute reality that combined the real and the dream worlds and united opposites like real and imaginary. As part of the process, hidden elements were to be exposed through techniques such as “écriture automatique” or “automatic writing”, dream journals and collage.
In the works by Surrealist artists such as Max Ernst, Hans Arp, Joan Miró, Oscar Dominguez, René Magritte, Salvador Dalí or Man Ray, objective elements merge with the non-objective to create new and unfamiliar pictorial worlds. Many female artists such as Claude Cahun, Leonora Carrington, Frida Kahlo, Meret Oppenheim, Dorothea Tanning, Toyen, Alice Rahon, Leonor Fini, Jacqueline Lamba, Kay Sage and many others also explored Surrealist ideas and made their own notable contributions to the development of this movement.
The Surrealist artists rejected any form of tradition in the fields of politics, society or the Church. The revolutionary aspirations among leading Surrealists wanting to change society were evident in their close relationships with the French Communist Party, although these generally did not last. 
Surrealism began in France, but subsequently spread throughout Europe and to Central America and the United States.

Diana Brinton Lee, Nusch Éluard, Eileen Agar, Sheila Legge and a friend of Salvador Dalí (seated) at the International Surrealist Exhibition, New Burlington Galleries, London, 1936, Photography, National Galleries of Scotland

Hidden Heroines


Meret Oppenheim, Mona Lisa's Eye, 1967



No other artistic movement had quite as many female protagonists as Surrealism, and in no other movement did female members make such a key contribution. Nevertheless, most of them are still unknown today.

Many of the female Surrealists became part of the circle through their male partners. They frequently began their artistic careers as muses, lovers or artists’ models, but quickly developed a role for themselves that went far beyond this, making their own artistic contributions independently and showing keen self-perception and self-affirmation in doing so. In thematic terms, many of their works revolve around their identity as women: They focus on the relationship between the sexes and on bourgeois notions of femininity, as well as ways to rebel against or crush them.

The Surrealists’ relationships with their female colleagues

The attitude of the male Surrealists to their female colleagues could be described as thoroughly ambivalent: In general, women participated in many of the Surrealists’ artistic activities on equal terms with men. In their individual artistic creativity as well as in the dissemination of the Surrealist ideas, the women were highly productive, and the movement itself repeatedly rejected traditional notions of family, sexual morals and married life both in theory and practice. Male artists sometimes gave themselves female pseudonyms and broke away from classic ideas about gender, while their manifestos celebrated femininity and called for a rejection of the patriarchy as well as a strengthening of the role of women in society. Many exhibitions featured good numbers of female artists.
Nevertheless, the artists’ male colleagues were far from being feminists in today’s sense. No small number of the artworks created by the male Surrealists portray women as objects or in the classic roles of seductress or object of lust. Sometimes, more contemptuously, women appear as witches or prostitutes, or as passive, virginal nymphets. Where they are depicted as seers, queens or goddesses, they appear at the same time supernatural and unattainable. Indeed for many years the official members of the Surrealist group were exclusively male.

Leonor Fini, In the Tower, 1952

The traditional gender roles are reversed, as here the woman shows the man the way.

Jane Graverol, The Holy Spirit, 1965

There is more to this image than just a bird flying through a ravine.

Rachel Baes, The Polka, 1946

Reduced to a mannequin with a hat, this woman tries to flee her barren cell.

Ithell Colquhoun, Anatomie des Baumes, 1942

The female gender is a cavern in which a man can quickly get lost.

Louise Bourgeois, Femme maison, 1946/47

The head and the mind – not the body – is the temple of this housewife too.

The traditional gender roles are reversed, as here the woman shows the man the way.


Which attributes are classically considered male and which female? What defines a man and a woman? And what happens when these roles are reversed or called into question?

Transformations and playing with different identities are frequent themes in the works by the female Surrealists. This applies just as much to a change in gender roles as to their delving into fantasy worlds or the animal kingdom – often in a playful way. Claude Cahun appears as a boxer wearing training gear, with a weight on her lap and a short, pomaded hairstyle. The heart painted on her cheek and the adjunct to the title, “Don’t kiss me”, create irony in the classic presentation of the “strong man”, as do her elegantly crossed legs. The emancipation of women from the strict bourgeois conventions is another frequent topic of the numerous self-portraits by female Surrealists. This applies, for example, in Leonora Carrington’s “self-portrait”, the many symbols of which present puzzles for the observer. Many works reveal a desire for recognition of an artist’s own individuality regardless of the predominant social preconceptions.

Claude Cahun, Selbstporträt [I am in Training … Don’t Kiss Me], um 1927
Leonora Carrington, Self-portrait “à l'auberge du Cheval d’Aube”, 1936–37

I didn’t have time to be anyone’s muse … I was too busy rebelling against my family and learning to be an artist.

Leonora Carrington



Bridget Tichenor, The Surrealists/The Specialists, 1956



The year 1939 plays an important role in the history of women and the Surrealists in Mexico: This was the year that saw Mexican artist Frida Kahlo exhibit her works in Europe for the first time, doing so as part of the group exhibition “Mexique”, which was organized by André Breton at the Parisian Galerie Renou & Colle.

One year previously, André Breton and French painter Jacqueline Lamba had taken a trip to Mexico, and it was there that they met Frida Kahlo and her husband, artist Diego Rivera. Kahlo and Lamba became firm friends.
When Kahlo made the trip to Paris in 1939, Lamba introduced her to the French poet and artist Alice Rahon, as well as the Spanish painter Remedios Varo. Both women later settled in Mexico together with their husbands, who were also members of the Surrealist movement.

The arrival of the European exiles in the late 1930s and early 1940s breathed new life into the cultural scene of Mexico City. Meanwhile, the history of the country with its pre-Colombian past, its magnificent landscapes, its handicrafts and its traditional mythology helped to rejuvenate Surrealism in turn.
In 1940 the newly established Gallery for Mexican Art hosted the exhibition “Exposición Internacional de Surrealismo”. Here, the works by female artists were presented in equal scope to those by their male colleagues. During the years that followed, more Surrealists came to Mexico and stayed there – including the British painter and writer Leonora Carrington and Hungarian photographer Kati Horna.

Painting completed my life.

Frida Kahlo

In her works, Frida Kahlo frequently uses symbols and motifs from Mexican culture. This recollection of indigenous roots often harbors a political message too. In 1930 Kahlo and Rivera move to the USA, where they spent four years. Kahlo marveled at the industrial progress in the United States, yet she also felt uneasy in this new world. In the painting “Self Portrait Along the Border Line Between Mexico and the United States”, she reveals her ambivalent attitude towards the country. Wearing an elegant pink dress and with the Mexican flag in her hand, she stands like a statue on a plinth before a world of two parts – on the left the Mexican side, with its deep historical roots and connection to nature, and on the right the USA dominated by technology.

Frida Kahlo, Self Portrait on the Border Line Between Mexico and the United States, 1932

Mexico as a place of exile

Since 1910 Mexico had been caught in the clutches of revolution, which led to increased interest in the country as early as the 1920s and 1930s. During the late 1930s and early 1940s many people came to Mexico unwillingly, fleeing Nazi Germany or the Fascists in Spain. Many of the exiles were (often Jewish) intellectuals, who were unable to get a visa for the USA for political reasons. The liberal asylum policies of President Lázaro Cárdenas meant they were able to settle in Mexico, and the country’s artistic awakening drew immigrants from the art scene, including many figures connected to the Surrealist movement. They developed further in their new homeland, writing, painting and exhibiting their works. Mexico became an important country of exile with a diverse political landscape. Here, anarchists met supporters of Leon Trotsky, who had followed the Russian revolutionary and Communist politician into his final exile. André Breton and Jacqueline Lamba also met Trotsky, who was staying with Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, when they travelled to Mexico. The photo was taken during this meeting. Breton, Trotsky and Rivera subsequently composed the manifesto “For an Independent Revolutionary Art”, which proclaims that art has a tendency towards revolution and must be absolutely independent of states and the political apparatus. Breton subsequently founded the “Fédération internationale de l’art révolutionnaire independent” (FIARI) in 1938, with bases in Paris, London, New York and Mexico. This association united the supporters of Trotsky, proponents of Surrealism, anarchists and independent writers and artists. It also boasted its own publication, the magazine “La Clé” (“The Key”), although only two issues were ever published. In February 1939 the publication was stopped due to the heightened political tensions in Europe and the subsequent outbreak of the Second World War.

Breton with Rivera, Trotsky and Lamba in Mexico City, 1938

World War II forced Jacqueline Lamba and André Breton to emigrate to the USA in 1941. Lamba worked as a translator for the Surrealist magazine “VVV”, founded in 1942, and it was during that same year that she produced her work on paper, “Tournesol”. The objects, drawn using colored pencils, appear to emerge from the condensation of light in the space. Fractal forms dominate the image: They hover, flow into one another, and carry us off to the metaphysical dimensions of the human psyche.

Jacqueline Lamba, Sunflower, ca. 1942

The line does not exist, it is already shape. Shadow does not exist, it is already light

Jacqueline Lamba
  • Frida Kahlo, Sun and Life, 1947

    The amorphous plant forms are symbols for male and female genitalia. At the center stands the life-giving sun which, after setting, roams about the underworld nurturing the germinating life. Here, Frida Kahlo takes inspiration from an ancient mythical notion about the activity of the sun. The crying fetus within a plant and the teardrop-like pistils illustrate Kahlo’s sadness about her own infertility.

  • Alice Rahon, Corn Festival, 1954

    The poet Alice Rahon began painting in Mexico. Here, she combined Surrealist elements with themes and colors typical of the country. Her paintings are influenced by Mexican stories, festivals and traditions, and here she has taken inspiration from the colorful corn festival held to celebrate the corn harvest. Mexico is the place where this crop, which was central to the Aztek civilization, was originally cultivated. Aztek mythology is therefore closely linked to corn and even attributes multiple deities to it.


Fabulous stories

Leonor Fini, Chtonian Deity Watching over the Sleep of a Young Man, 1946



In May 1936 the Parisian Galerie Charles Ratton opened the exhibition “Exposition surréaliste d’objets” – the first overview of Surrealist pieces. Artworks by professional and self-taught artists, objects from North America and Oceania, mathematical models and found objects are presented equally alongside one another here, almost like a modern cabinet of curiosities.

The intention was to stimulate the observers’ imaginative power through the illogical juxtaposition of objects. At the same time, this expresses the antihierarchical attitude of the Surrealists and is testament to their desire to develop a kind of “modern mythology” from the various different cultures all considered to be equally valid.
The exploration of ancient mythology and the pre-Christian and non-European myths and sagas played an important role in the Surrealist circle.

Exposition Surréaliste d’objets, Galerie Charles Ratton, Paris, 1936

Mixed-up creatures

Hybrid, animalistic creatures appear time and again in Surrealist art. The legendary figure of Medieval mythology, Melusine (half woman, half sea-creature), and the mysterious Egyptian sphinx (half woman, half lion with the wings of a bird) often appear as symbols of metamorphosis and variability, but also of the demonic seductress that is the “femme fatale”. The title of the Surrealist magazine “Minotaure” likewise stems from a hybrid creature: The minotaur, a beast from Greek mythology with a human body and the head of a bull, appeared as a symbolic figure on eleven title pages of this magazine. On the hunt for new paragons for a model of female identity, female artists picked up on the motifs of hybrid creatures with notable frequency, but witches, female alchemists and goddesses also appear time and again.

In this painting, Mexican artist Frida Kahlo processes her own destiny. “The Wounded Deer” is a self-portrait of the artist, in which she appears as an androgynous hybrid creature with a female head and a male animal’s body. She used her beloved pet, a fawn called Granizo, as a model.
The animal’s body is pierced by nine arrows. These are references to depictions of Saint Sebastian, a Roman soldier who converted to Christianity and was hence condemned to death, with the sentence to be carried out by archers.
On the ground in front of the deer there is a broken branch, an object from traditional Mexican funerary culture. Kahlo uses this symbolic pictorial language to express her physical and emotional pain: At the time when this work was developed, the artist was suffering from severe physical pain and emotional turmoil caused by the notorious infidelity of her husband, Diego Rivera.

Some details of this painting do convey hope, however: The blue ocean and the lightning in the background embody the forces of nature, which Kahlo perceived to be feminine and protective. The artist’s facial expression also shows her to be calm and pensive in spite of the pain.

Frida Kahlo, The Wounded Deer, 1946

People under seventy and over seven are very unreliable if they are not cats.

Leonora Carrington
Leonora Carrington and José Horna, La Grande Dame (Cat Woman), 1951

British artist Leonora Carrington marveled at animals for their “indomitable” core that evaded the will of man. In her work, she creates a poetic world populated by wondrous creatures. This monumental sculpture, carved by the Spanish sculptor José Horna and painted by Carrington, was inspired by the Egyptian cat or lioness goddess Bastet. Here Bastet, as a symbol of fertility and renewal, embodies the “female human animal”, an expression the artist used to describe herself.

Leonora Carrington, Portrait of the Late Mrs. Partridge, 1947

In this painting too, Carrington presents a hybrid being: A female figure with long hair protruding upwards and outwards from her head roams through a cloudy landscape. Her body transitions into a large, blue partridge, hence dream and reality flow into each other in Carrington’s art.

Remedios Varo, Emerging Light, 1962

The Spanish painter Remedios Varo became friends with Carrington, her intellectual kin. She was very interested in the world of mysticism and the occult, and used her work for psychological and spiritual liberation. Varo prepared her paintings using careful sketches on tracing paper and subsequently transferred them to canvas or, as in this case, onto Masonite, a board made of wood fibers. In this self-portrait the artist presents herself as a loner undertaking her own inner quest.

Toyen, The Screen, 1966

The Czech painter Marie Čermínová aimed to escape any kind of firm categorization. At 21 years old she invented the gender-neutral pseudonym “Toyen”, derived from the French word “citoyen” (“citizen”). Instead of exploring the contrasts between male and female, human and animalistic, Toyen aimed to recognize similarities. Toyen combined painting with collage, cutting out body parts from magazines and gluing selected elements onto the canvas. Here Toyen places a mouth where the genitalia would be on this female yet animalistic-seeming figure and creates a scene that oscillates between longing and fear.

British artist Leonora Carrington marveled at animals for their “indomitable” core that evaded the will of man. In her work, she creates a poetic world populated by wondrous creatures. This monumental sculpture, carved by the Spanish sculptor José Horna and painted by Carrington, was inspired by the Egyptian cat or lioness goddess Bastet. Here Bastet, as a symbol of fertility and renewal, embodies the “female human animal”, an expression the artist used to describe herself.

This collage of graphics and magazine illustrations on paper likewise represents a hybrid figure and stems from a game that was popular among the Surrealists, “cadavre exquis” (from the French for “exquisite corpse”). The game involved assembling random words as a group: Each participant would initially write an article on a sheet of paper, then the page was folded so the word was hidden and passed on to the next player. Each player then wrote a noun, folded the page again, and the process would continue with a verb, another article, an adjective, and finally another noun. The example that gave the game its name was the first part of one sentence that was formed this way. The Surrealists also played with images in a similar fashion, with the aim being for multiple people to create a drawing or collage. Here, the paper was folded, and each participant continued with the drawing without knowing what the previous person had drawn.

The game was an important part of the Surrealists’ everyday life. From the movement’s outset, playful processes seemed to be particularly suitable as a way into the subconscious and to create space for happenstance. Another aim was to free the creative process from each individual artistic gesture. Many other Surrealist games (question and answer or evaluation games) served for a collective creative process and also to enhance the cohesion of the group.

**Jaqueline Lamba, André Breton, Yves Tanguy, Cadavre exquis, Feb 8, 1938

Fire and flames

In 1943, Leonora Carrington emigrated to Mexico City. There, she experienced a productive phase of creativity, throwing herself into studying medieval techniques which gave rise to a series of complex images. In order to achieve vibrant color tones here, the artist worked with egg tempera, applying it to wooden boards.

In the painting “Le Distractions de Dagobert”, Carrington focuses on the story of the 7th-century Merovingian King Dagobert, employing an intricate structure in her image which incorporates various scenes taking place at the same time. This kind of depiction and the detailed and recognizable objects in the background are reminiscent of the paintings of the 16th-century Flemish artist Hieronymus Bosch, whose works Carrington discovered during her stay in Spain.

  • Leonora Carrington, The Pleasures of Dagobert, 1945

    The image is subdivided into five sections, four of which represent the alchemistic elements: earth, wind, fire, and water. The last of these occupies the upper part of the image. The fire section is located in the bottom left, while water occupies the central section and air the bottom right. The king himself is shown in the middle of the right-hand half of the image and represents the fifth section. Wearing a crown and a red robe, he sits on a giant hobby horse, which a small boy pulls along behind him on a string. The individual scenes contain frequent cross-references to the story of Dagobert, hence the woman in blue and red in the “air” section lying in a boat, the sail of which also becomes a fishing net filled with starfish and shells. Shellfish are famed as aphrodisiacs and, along with the woman’s dress which resembles the form of a vagina on her back, are a reference to sexuality. This is an allusion to Dagobert, whose sexual excesses were notorious.

  • Hieronymus Bosch, The Temptation of Saint Anthony (central panel of a triptych), 1501-06

    In this deeply symbolic altarpiece, Hieronymus Bosch offers his interpretation of the Temptation of Saint Anthony. The hermit Anthony is placed amid the semi-dilapidated ruins of a fortress and is tempted by demons as he devoutly prays. Some of the demons are acting as fire-raisers, reducing a village to rubble and ash, while hybrid creatures and wondrous flying machines float about the sky. The crumbling architecture, the presence of the hybrid creatures, the flying ship and even the representation of the different elements within one picture all represent similarities with Carrington’s work.

The works by Swiss artist Meret Oppenheim are strongly characterized by Surrealist ideas. A central topic in her oeuvre is exploration of the natural world and the cycle of life, and motifs like clouds, trees and stones appear time and again in the artist’s works. In the painting “Daphne und Apoll”, she focuses on the story of these two figures from ancient Greek mythology. Apollo, who has been struck by the arrow of Eros, the god of love, falls in love with Daphne, a river nymph, but she rejects his advances. Exhausted by Apollo’s pursuit of her, Daphne begs her father Peneus to change her form, since it is so alluring to Apollo, and in that moment her limbs begin to stiffen and she transforms into a laurel tree. In Oppenheim’s painting, both the genders are caught in a metamorphosis. Daphne is not running from Apollo, but rather faces him, and from an opposing pair Oppenheim derives a coming together of the two sexes.

Meret Oppenheim, Daphne and Apollo, 1943

Art as a political statement

Following the publication of the “First Manifesto of Surrealism” in 1924 by André Breton, this mindset and approach to creativity gained countless proponents among artistic circles. The manifesto contained not only aesthetic, but also political insistences. The Surrealists were against materialism and realism – the first of these Breton connected with capitalism, the latter with rationalism and an orientation towards the real, external world. The “Second Manifesto of Surrealism”, also composed by Breton in 1930, likewise set out the Surrealists’ aspirations: to flee from society with its norms and habits, to fight for Marxist, liberal ideals, and to challenge capitalism. From today’s perspective, and given the situation in the 1930s in particular, Surrealism was an extremely progressive movement in some aspects: Against the political background of Nazi Germany, Franco’s dictatorship in Spain and Stalinism in the Soviet Union, the Surrealists took a stance against eurocentrism. They were interested in the art of indigenous peoples, celebrated dreams, wildness and myths, and attempted to develop a kind of “modern mythology” from the different cultures. The Surrealists rebelled against anything authoritarian and militaristic, and at the same time questioned technologization and the excessive industrialization of nature. Instead of logic and pragmatism, they turned towards the subconscious, towards dreams, poetry and any form of individual freedom.

World of dreams

World of dreams

Emila Medková, Hand with Watch, 1949



Imaginary worlds, skewed perspectives, dreamlike utopias – and yet most of it seems remarkably familiar. The still young medium of photography illustrated reality yet opened up previously inconceivable possibilities for defamiliarizing what was real and thus exposing its poetry.

Many photographic works by the female Surrealists are confusing at first glance. They show nightmarish landscapes, futuristic cities or familiar settings from a distorted perspective. It is often difficult to understand what is being depicted, since severe black and white contrasts or the playful use of lighting and different focal distances show the world from an unusual perspective. Hence Lee Miller deliberately shot the street view “Impasse aux deux anges” capturing 180 degrees.
The development of the photos in the darkroom created further possibilities for intervention in the pictorial result. Retouching of the original and subsequent color application were both equally viable, while photo montage techniques meant that bizarre pictorial elements could be inserted into familiar settings from everyday life, as is the case in Dora Maar’s “29 vue d’Astorg”. Thus, the female Surrealists created not only visions of the future, but actually also used art to call into question the entire concept of the original.

  • Lee Miller, Impasse des deux anges, Paris, c. 1930
  • Lola Álvarez Bravo, Architectural Anarchy in Mexico City, 1950s
  • Dora Maar, 29, rue d’Astorg, 1936


A bird – the universal symbol of freedom, this time formed of tank treads and other weapons – rises into the air. Enthroned upon it is a female figure. Her upper body consists of rose leaves and blossoms, while her mysterious gaze is fixed on the observer.

Jane Graverol’s collage “La Prospérité du Vice” (“The Prosperity of Vice”) brings together contradictory elements in true Surrealist fashion and presents a puzzle for the observer. Thorny flowers portray sensitive skin while mechanical instruments of war form organic bird feathers; a bird of prey lifts a grown woman effortlessly into the air. The artist liked to combine things she had found, including everyday printed material such as advertisements or magazine pages, without it all fitting together on the relevant scale. This combination of pictorial elements that do not belong together or are downright contradictory is vexing for the observer, since it plays with the legitimacies of reality and overrides it. This pictorial composition is made possible by the collage technique, which combines various materials and became a frequently used means of creative expression from the 1920s onwards.

Jane Graverol, The Prosperity of Vice, 1967

Freedom is not given to you – you have to take it.

Meret Oppenheim



Within Surrealist circles women were welcome as muses, lovers or students. If they were to be recognized as artists in their own right, they first had to fight for it. Thanks to their talent, their interests and their biographies, they expanded the radius of the Surrealists’ design language with self-awareness and creativity.

The subconscious, dreams, chance, metamorphosis, political events, literature and myths and religions from beyond Europe: Much of that which inspired the male Surrealists appears in the work by their female counterparts too. The biggest differences can be seen in their depictions of themselves: On the hunt for a new, feminine self-image, many women artists questioned their own reflections or adopted different roles. Here, their exploration of subjects like androgyny or the third gender appears to be extraordinarily topical from today’s perspective.
The exhibition FANTASTIC WOMEN is now spotlighting the independent and versatile contributions female artists made to Surrealism, contributions which have thus far been recognized by very few experts and which cover a broad and diverse range in their style and content.

Eileen Agar
Lola Álvarez Bravo
Rachel Baes
Louise Bourgeois
Emmy Bridgwater
Claude Cahun
Leonora Carrington
Ithell Colquhoun
Maya Deren
Germaine Dulac
Nusch Éluard
Leonor Fini
Jane Graverol
Valentine Hugo
Frida Kahlo
Greta Knutson
Jacqueline Lamba
Sheila Legge
Dora Maar
Emila Medková
Lee Miller
Suzanne Muzard
Meret Oppenheim
Valentine Penrose
Alice Rahon
Edith Rimmington
Kay Sage
Sophie Taeuber-Arp
Jeanette Tanguy
Dorothea Tanning
Bridget Tichenor
Remedios Varo
Unica Zürn

Insider tip

This painting was created after a five-month break from painting, which Kay Sage felt forced to take after the sudden death of her husband Yves Tanguy. Sage is one of the most prominent representatives of Surrealism in the USA and uses landscape images as metaphors for the spirit and the human condition. Using only somber grey tones, “Tomorrow is Never” combines subjects that would reemerge in later phases of her career, including architectural scaffolds, grid structures and draped figures. They evoke a sense of being closed in and a loss of orientation. The painting is one of the final large-format works Sage produced before her suicide in 1963.

Kay Sage, Tomorrow is Never, 1955