Battle of the Amazons (1937)
Gelatin silver print
This rare print by Raoul Ubac is part of a series that features Penthesilea, the mythic Amazonian queen. To represent the queen and her consort, Ubac took several photographs of his wife, Agathe, and a friend. He also made close-up images of Agathe’s hair, as well as sticks and other props. He then combined these components into one elaborate image. The final grouping recalls the sculptural qualities of Greek carving. A surrealist, Ubac sought to tap into subconscious symbols relating to fantasy and sexual desire.
Too Soon for Thunder (1943)
Oil on canvas
Kay Sage, an American, was associated with the Surrealist movement, which explored the expression of an alternative reality through the unconscious mind and dream imagery.
Too Soon for Thunder is a desolate landscape, filled with enigmatic, architectural motifs and draped, skeletal phantoms. Of a similar image Sage explained, "It's a sort of showing what's inside-things half mechanical, half alive. The mountain itself can represent almost anything-a human, life, the world, any fundamental thing…I do know that while I'm painting, I feel as though I am living in the place." 🔺
Six works from the series
Requiem for a Heavyweight
Cibachrome (dye destruction print)
Clockwise from top left:
The Making of a President, Chapter VII: Getting the Message #4
What Can We Do?, Chapter II: Buying the Package #8
Your Responsibility, Chapter V: Filing for Bankruptcy, #9
Dollars on the Mind, Chapter V: Filing for Bankruptcy, #3
Radio Nites, Chapter VII: Getting the Message, #7
When Bad Things Happen…, Chapter V: Filing for Bankruptcy, #7
Let’s Phosphoresce by Intellection II
Roberto Matta Echaurren
Oil and charcoal on canvas (about 1950)
"Here, Roberto Matta Echaurren constructed a tightly woven realm where three-dimensional forms converge on the painting’s surface. His intent was to disrupt the viewer’s rational expectations and liberate the unconscious mind. Black rectangles seem to pulse on the surface and recede into deep space. Diagonal lines move into and out of the painting’s apparent depth. Luminous white, emerald green, and icy blue hues offset heavy areas. These elements evoke the infinite flux of time and space, dream and reality."
"Capricorn is an inventive portrait of Max Ernst and his wife, fellow Surrealist artist Dorothea Tanning. On another level, it expresses the duality of male and female.
For the Surrealists, as for the Greeks, the minotaur (half man/half bull) symbolized the battle between rational mind and aggressive instinct. This minotaur figure was probably inspired by a Katsina-a Zuni spirit sculpture-that was owned by Ernst. A mermaid and a dog, with pipe eyes and trowel tongue, rest next to him. The mermaid is also a hybrid. Part woman and part fish, she lives in the sea, a symbol of the feminine unconscious.
Tanning named Capricorn after a constellation. The title hints at astrology, the study of the influence of celestial events upon the lives of humans."
Women at Sunrise
Oil on canvas (1946)
Imaginative figures wearing triangular black skirts float in space in this little painting. Like other Surrealist artists, Joan Miró sought to express a reality that was above and beyond the conventional realm. Toward that end, he experimented with "pure psychic automatism," a form of doodling without the intervention of rational thought. Miró was further inspired by the art of children and the Altamira cave paintings in northern Spain.
Figure et profil
"Another interesting surrealist painting is Figure et profil that left a hint of autobiographical note. How many faces can you see? I see three: one on the left hand side, beside the window; another is the geometrical white figure itself; and the last is the alien – looking black outline – respectively representing Picasso’s progression from classical drawing in early years, then Cubism, and Surrealism later." [Source]