Fantastic scenarios played a significant role in women surrealists' artistic production. Fantasy offers fertile ground to explore unconscious drives and desires, but also to examine the uncanny and the world of dreams alongside the world of everyday life.
The artists delved into the world of dreams, myth, folklore and fairytales. Images of goddesses, visionaries and hybrid beings are re-worked to tell new stories and present alternative identities for women. The sphinx, which in classic mythology has the head and breasts of a woman, the body of a lioness and the wings of an eagle, is a repeated figure (seen in Jane Graverol’s L’Ecole de la Vanité). The angel is also a recurring figure and one of the key symbols of women surrealists, as a gender-ambiguous divine messenger operating between worlds.
L’École de la vanité [The School of Vanity], (detail) 1967
Le Bout du monde [The Ends of the Earth], (detail) 1948