Bulletin of Hispanic Studies

Reconfiguring the Surrealist Gaze: Remedios Varo's Images of Women

Bulletin of Hispanic Studies (2011), 88, (4), 455–468.

Abstract

A large number of surrealist theorizations were devoted to defining the role woman played in the creative process, where she held a polarized position. Within such theorizations the gaze held a key role. It was the gaze of the male poet, painter or photographer, his way of seeing and imagining femininity, which constructed the icon of the surrealist 'feminine'. This article elucidates upon how Remedios Varo's paintings revise both the surrealist gaze that sets out a concrete type of female identity and the woman who abandons herself to the (masculinist) cultural conceptualization of what she is. The article presents an analysis of several of Varo's paintings that reflect upon the construction of 'femininity' through an allegorical dimension that makes it possible to understand Varo's plastic images as a direct response to surrealist theorizations on women's psyche, existence and images.

Existen en el surrealismo numerosas reflexiones de carácter teórico acerca de la función que la mujer desempeña dentro del proceso creativo; una función que, no está de más decir, ha mantenido siempre un carácter ambivalente. Dentro de dichas teorizaciones, la noción de la mirada ha jugado un papel fundamental, puesto que fue precisamente la mirada del poeta, pintor o fotógrafo, su manera de ver y de imaginar la feminidad, lo que llevó en su momento a construir el icono de lo 'femenino' dentro del surrealismo. Este artículo elucida sobre cómo la pintura de Remedios Varo examina dichas concepciones teóricas sobre la mujer a la vez que, de lúdica forma, las subvierte. Por un lado, los cuadros serán entendidos como vehículos que inspeccionan tanto la mirada surrealista que establece un tipo concreto de feminidad como a la mujer que se abandona a sí misma a la conceptualización masculinista de lo que ella es. El artículo ofrece así pues en un análisis de varios cuadros que especulan sobre la construcción de la feminidad a través de una dimensión alegórica que hace posible entender las imágenes plásticas de Remedios Varo como ataque estratégico a las teorizaciones surrealistas sobre la psique de la mujer, su existencia, y su función en el proceso creativo.

Access Token
£25.00
READ THIS ARTICLE
If you have private access to this content, please log in with your username and password here

Agosín, Marjorie,1993. Las hacedoras: mujer, imagen, escritura (Santiago de Chile: Cuarto propio). Las hacedoras: mujer, imagen, escritura Google Scholar

Agosín, Marjorie,1998. A Woman's Gaze: Latin American Women Artists (New York: White Pine Press). A Woman's Gaze: Latin American Women Artists Google Scholar

Aragon, Louis,1994 [1926]. Paris Peasant, trans. Simon Watson Taylor (Boston, MA: Exact Change). Google Scholar

Benjamin, Walter,1969. Illuminations, ed. Hannah Arendt, trans. Harry Zohn (New York: Schocken). Illuminations Google Scholar

Berger, John,1979. Ways of Seeing (London: Harmondsworth). Ways of Seeing Google Scholar

Breton, André,1974 [1962]. Manifestoes of Surrealism, trans. Richard Seaver and Helen R. Lane (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press). Google Scholar

Carrington, Leonora,2005. Exhibition: Universo de familia. Leonora Carrington, Emerico Weisz, Pablo Weisz, Gabriel Weisz. Palacio de Bellas Artes, México DF, 5 August (n. p.). Google Scholar

Caws, Mary Ann,1999 [1997]. The Surrealist Look. An Erotics of Encounter (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press). Google Scholar

Chadwick, Whitney,1991. Women Artists and the Surrealist Movement (London: Thames and Hudson). Women Artists and the Surrealist Movement Google Scholar

de Beauvoir, Simone,1988 [1949]. The Second Sex, trans. and ed. H. M Parshley (London: Picador). Google Scholar

del Conde, Teresa,2002 [1984]. 'Los Psicoanalistas y Remedios', in Catálogo Razonado/Catalogue Raisoneé, ed. Walter Gruen (México: Era), pp. 17–26. Google Scholar

Everly, Kathryn A.,2003. Catalan Women Writers and Artists: Revisionist Views from a Feminist Space (London: Associated University Press). Catalan Women Writers and Artists: Revisionist Views from a Feminist Space Google Scholar

Freud, Sigmund,1985. 'The Theme of the Three Caskets'. Art and Literature: Jensen's Gradiva, Leonardo Da Vinci and Other Works, James Strachey (Harmondsworth, London: Penguin), pp. 235–47. Google Scholar

Gauthier, Xavière,1971. Surrealisme et Sexualité (Paris: Gallimard). Surrealisme et Sexualité Google Scholar

Haynes, Debora J.,1995. 'The Art of Remedios Varo. Issues of Gender Ambiguity and Religious Meaning', Woman's Art Journal, 16.1: 26–32. The Art of Remedios Varo. Issues of Gender Ambiguity and Religious Meaning Woman's Art Journal 16 26 32 Google Scholar

Hubert, Renée Riese,1994. Magnifying Mirrors: Women, Surrealism and Partnership (Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press). Magnifying Mirrors: Women, Surrealism and Partnership Google Scholar

Irigaray, Luce,1985. This Sex which is Not One (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press). This Sex which is Not One Google Scholar

Kaplan, Janet A.,1981. 'Remedios Varo: Voyages and Visions', Women's Art Journal, 1.2: 38–48. Remedios Varo: Voyages and Visions Women's Art Journal 1 38 48 Google Scholar

Kaplan, Janet A.,1988. Unexpected Journeys: The Art and Life of Remedios Varo (New York: Abbeville). Unexpected Journeys: The Art and Life of Remedios Varo Google Scholar

Lauter, Estella,1984. Women as Mythmakers: Poetry and Visual Art by Twentieth Century Women (Bloomington: Indiana University Press). Women as Mythmakers: Poetry and Visual Art by Twentieth Century Women Google Scholar

Nadeau, Maurice,1978 [1945]. The History of Surrealism, trans. Richard Howard (London: Penguin). Google Scholar

Orenstein, Gloria,1975. The Theatre of the Marvelous. Surrealism and the Contemporary Stage (New York: New York University Press). The Theatre of the Marvelous. Surrealism and the Contemporary Stage Google Scholar

Parkinson-Zamora, Lois,1992. 'The Magical Tables of Isabel Allende and Remedios Varo', Comparative Literature, 44.2: 113–43. The Magical Tables of Isabel Allende and Remedios Varo Comparative Literature 44 113 43 Google Scholar

Suleiman, Susan Rubin,1990. Subversive Intent. Gender Politics and the Avant-Garde (London: Harvard University Press). Subversive Intent. Gender Politics and the Avant-Garde Google Scholar

Varo, Beatriz,1990. Remedios Varo. En el centro del microcosmos (México: FCE). Remedios Varo. En el centro del microcosmos Google Scholar

Varo, Remedios,2002 [1984]. Catálogo Razonado/Catalogue Raisonée, ed. Walter Grue. (México: Era). Google Scholar

Agosín, Marjorie,1993. Las hacedoras: mujer, imagen, escritura (Santiago de Chile: Cuarto propio). Las hacedoras: mujer, imagen, escritura Google Scholar

Agosín, Marjorie,1998. A Woman's Gaze: Latin American Women Artists (New York: White Pine Press). A Woman's Gaze: Latin American Women Artists Google Scholar

Aragon, Louis,1994 [1926]. Paris Peasant, trans. Simon Watson Taylor (Boston, MA: Exact Change). Google Scholar

Benjamin, Walter,1969. Illuminations, ed. Hannah Arendt, trans. Harry Zohn (New York: Schocken). Illuminations Google Scholar

Berger, John,1979. Ways of Seeing (London: Harmondsworth). Ways of Seeing Google Scholar

Breton, André,1974 [1962]. Manifestoes of Surrealism, trans. Richard Seaver and Helen R. Lane (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press). Google Scholar

Carrington, Leonora,2005. Exhibition: Universo de familia. Leonora Carrington, Emerico Weisz, Pablo Weisz, Gabriel Weisz. Palacio de Bellas Artes, México DF, 5 August (n. p.). Google Scholar

Caws, Mary Ann,1999 [1997]. The Surrealist Look. An Erotics of Encounter (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press). Google Scholar

Chadwick, Whitney,1991. Women Artists and the Surrealist Movement (London: Thames and Hudson). Women Artists and the Surrealist Movement Google Scholar

de Beauvoir, Simone,1988 [1949]. The Second Sex, trans. and ed. H. M Parshley (London: Picador). Google Scholar

del Conde, Teresa,2002 [1984]. 'Los Psicoanalistas y Remedios', in Catálogo Razonado/Catalogue Raisoneé, ed. Walter Gruen (México: Era), pp. 17–26. Google Scholar

Everly, Kathryn A.,2003. Catalan Women Writers and Artists: Revisionist Views from a Feminist Space (London: Associated University Press). Catalan Women Writers and Artists: Revisionist Views from a Feminist Space Google Scholar

Freud, Sigmund,1985. 'The Theme of the Three Caskets'. Art and Literature: Jensen's Gradiva, Leonardo Da Vinci and Other Works, James Strachey (Harmondsworth, London: Penguin), pp. 235–47. Google Scholar

Gauthier, Xavière,1971. Surrealisme et Sexualité (Paris: Gallimard). Surrealisme et Sexualité Google Scholar

Haynes, Debora J.,1995. 'The Art of Remedios Varo. Issues of Gender Ambiguity and Religious Meaning', Woman's Art Journal, 16.1: 26–32. The Art of Remedios Varo. Issues of Gender Ambiguity and Religious Meaning Woman's Art Journal 16 26 32 Google Scholar

Hubert, Renée Riese,1994. Magnifying Mirrors: Women, Surrealism and Partnership (Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press). Magnifying Mirrors: Women, Surrealism and Partnership Google Scholar

Irigaray, Luce,1985. This Sex which is Not One (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press). This Sex which is Not One Google Scholar

Kaplan, Janet A.,1981. 'Remedios Varo: Voyages and Visions', Women's Art Journal, 1.2: 38–48. Remedios Varo: Voyages and Visions Women's Art Journal 1 38 48 Google Scholar

Kaplan, Janet A.,1988. Unexpected Journeys: The Art and Life of Remedios Varo (New York: Abbeville). Unexpected Journeys: The Art and Life of Remedios Varo Google Scholar

Lauter, Estella,1984. Women as Mythmakers: Poetry and Visual Art by Twentieth Century Women (Bloomington: Indiana University Press). Women as Mythmakers: Poetry and Visual Art by Twentieth Century Women Google Scholar

Nadeau, Maurice,1978 [1945]. The History of Surrealism, trans. Richard Howard (London: Penguin). Google Scholar

Orenstein, Gloria,1975. The Theatre of the Marvelous. Surrealism and the Contemporary Stage (New York: New York University Press). The Theatre of the Marvelous. Surrealism and the Contemporary Stage Google Scholar

Parkinson-Zamora, Lois,1992. 'The Magical Tables of Isabel Allende and Remedios Varo', Comparative Literature, 44.2: 113–43. The Magical Tables of Isabel Allende and Remedios Varo Comparative Literature 44 113 43 Google Scholar

Suleiman, Susan Rubin,1990. Subversive Intent. Gender Politics and the Avant-Garde (London: Harvard University Press). Subversive Intent. Gender Politics and the Avant-Garde Google Scholar

Varo, Beatriz,1990. Remedios Varo. En el centro del microcosmos (México: FCE). Remedios Varo. En el centro del microcosmos Google Scholar

Varo, Remedios,2002 [1984]. Catálogo Razonado/Catalogue Raisonée, ed. Walter Grue. (México: Era). Google Scholar

If you have private access to this content, please log in with your username and password here

Details

Author details

Cándenas, Inés Ferrero