Thursday, March 22, 2012

Dreaming as the Days Go By

The Chess Queens (1944) by Muriel Streeter

I recently visited LACMA's exhibit "In Wonderland: The Surrealist Adventures of Women Artists in Mexico and the United States" which was an eye-opening experience. I found it so profound for two reasons. First, the works on display were exceptionally strong, powerful expressions of surrealist aesthetics.

Second, there were many "forgotten masterpieces" on display, works that should have greater prominence and fame; I'm reasonably learned in art history, but there were many awesome pieces that were unfamiliar to me. I can't help but feel that these artists have been neglected by art historians because of gender bias. The fact that some of them were from Latin America or lived there put a double whammy on them, making them beneath the notice of the male-centric Euro-centric art cognoscenti.

So, kudos to LACMA and the Museo de Arte Moderno for putting this show together. It's about time that these treasures got the appreciation that they deserve.

Detail of Celestial Pablum (1958) by Remedios Varo

Although I found the actual layout to be confusing, the exhibit was segmented along a variety of themes that pervade the works of these artists. From the use of games and chance in composing works to the conceptualization of the Self, the exhibit examined topics both philosophical and technical. Yet, it always presented the subject in a coherent and accessible manner, never drifting off into deep Art Theory or Formal Techniques territories.

So, I highly recommend this show. With nearly fifty different artists featured, focusing on a timespan of five decades, there is a whole lot to see. I'd say it's the best LACMA exhibit in the last few years, which, given the high quality of their curation, is high praise!

Detail of Self-Portrait (With Landscape) (1944) by Helen Lundeberg

And here are a few more photos:

Detail of Family Portrait (1954) by Dorothea Tanning

Detail of Self Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird (1940) by Frida Kahlo

And here are a few vids:


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