The militant muse : love, war and the women of surrealism / Whitney Chadwick.

by Chadwick, Whitney [author.]Looking glass.

Publisher: London : Thames & Hudson, 2017.Description: 256 pages : illustrations (black and white, and colour) ; 24 cm.ISBN: 9780500239681.Subject(s): Surrealism -- History | Surrealist artistsLooking glass | Women artistsLooking glass | Friendship in artLooking glassNote: Includes bibliographical references and index.
List(s) this item appears in: Women artists/designers
Item type Home library Collection Class number Status Date due Barcode Item reservations
Long loan Camberwell College of Arts
Main collection
Printed books 709.4091 CHA (Browse shelf (Opens below)) Issued 06/12/2021 54219402
Long loan Central Saint Martins
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Printed books 709.04063 CHA (Browse shelf (Opens below)) Available 54262608
Long loan London College of Fashion
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Printed books 709.04063 CHA (Browse shelf (Opens below)) Available 54253674
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Enhanced descriptions from Syndetics:

The Militant Muse documents what it meant to be young, ambitious and female in the context of an avant-garde movement defined by celebrated men whose educational, philosophical and literary backgrounds were often quite different from those of their younger lovers and companions. Focusing on the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, Whitney Chadwick charts five intense, far-reaching female friendships among the Surrealists to show how Surrealism, female friendship and the experiences of war, loss and trauma shaped individual women's transitions from beloved muses to mature artists. Her vivid account includes the fascinating story of Claude Cahun and Suzanne Malherbe's subversive activities in occupied Jersey, as well as the experiences of Lee Miller and Valentine Penrose at the frontline. Chadwick draws on personal correspondence between women, including the extraordinary letters between Leonora Carrington and Leonor Fini during the months following the arrest and imprisonment of Carrington's lover Max Ernst at the beginning of World War Two, and the letter Frida Kahlo shared with her friend and lover Jacqueline Lamba years after it was written in the late 1930s during a difficult stay in Paris, marred by her intense dislike of Breton.Thoroughly engrossing, this history brings a new perspective to the political context of Surrealism, as well as fresh insights on the vital importance of female friendship to its artistic and intellectual flowering.

Includes bibliographical references and index.

Table of contents provided by Syndetics

  • Cast of Characters (p. 4)
  • Preface (p. 7)
  • 1 The Alchemy of Desire: (p. 16)
  • Valentine Penrose and Alice Rahon Paalen, India 1937
  • 2 The Two Leonors: (p. 60)
  • Leonora Carrington and Leonor Fini, Saint-Martin-d'Ardèche, 1938-41
  • 3 'I Will Write to You with My Eyes' (p. 103)
  • Frida Kahlo and Jacqueline Lamba Breton, Mexico and Paris, 1938-45
  • 4 Soldiers without Names (p. 165)
  • Claude Cahun, Suzanne Malherbe and Jacqueline Laraba Breton, Jersey, 1938-45
  • 5 Wars without End (p. 198)
  • Lee Miller and Valentine Penrose, 1940-78
  • Conclusion (p. 221)
  • Acknowledgments (p. 230)
  • Notes (p. 233)
  • Selected Bibliography (p. 242)
  • Picture Credits (p. 248)
  • Index (p. 251)

Reviews provided by Syndetics

Publishers Weekly Review

Chadwick (Women, Art, and Society) offers an informative and often moving account of the intersecting lives of women surrealists during the rise of Franco in Spain in the 1930s and the outbreak of WWII. Chadwick charts the extraordinary and accomplished lives these politically-engaged women led independently of their husbands and lovers. He profiles Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, who famously became a cult figure in her own lifetime despite working in the shadow of her husband, Diego Rivera; he also explores the lesser-known lives of women such as photographer Claude Cahun and illustrator Suzanne Malherbe, who, during the German occupation of France, narrowly escaped death for their involvement in the resistance, and Lee Miller, a Vogue photographer turned war correspondent, known for her arresting images of the aftermath of the London Blitz and the atrocities at the Dachau concentration camp. Chadwick notes that, for all their differences, her subjects share a common refusal to passively live only as inspirations to men, a notion best articulated by painter Leonora Carrington, who asserted, "I didn't have time to be anyone's muse.... I was too busy rebelling against my family and learning to be an artist." This is an accessible and invigorating study of female friendship and art history. Photos. (Oct.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Author notes provided by Syndetics

Whitney Chadwick is Professor of Art at San Francisco State University. She has lectured and published widely in the areas of surrealism, feminism, and contemporary art. She lives in San Francisco, California.