The Beribboned Bomb: The Image of Woman in Male Surrealist Art

The Beribboned Bomb: The Image of Woman in Male Surrealist Art

The Beribboned Bomb: The Image of Woman in Male Surrealist Art

The Beribboned Bomb: The Image of Woman in Male Surrealist Art

Synopsis

Surrealism was ostensibly directed at the emancipation of the human spirit, but it represented only male aspirations and fantasies until a number of women artists began to redefine its agenda in the later 1930s. This book addresses the former, using a 'thick description' of the historically specific circumstances which required the male Surrealists to manufacture a sexual reputation of narcissism and misogyny. These circumstances were determined by 'hegemonic masculinity', an ideological construct which had little to do with individual masculinities. In male Surrealism, the 'beribboned bomb' signified something both attractive and volatile, a specific instance of the Surrealist principle of convulsive beauty. In hegemonic masculinity, similar devices served as metaphors of the sexuality all men were supposed to possess. The intersection of these two axes produced an imagery of unrepentant violence.

Excerpt

The introductory chapters provide a short survey of types of responses to Surrealism in the published literature and a brief sketch of the broader historical context forming the backdrop of the ideology of male Surrealists. This ideology allayed their disappointment with a reality that could not meet their needs, but in doing so it elided their differences from each other, as well as from the objects of their desire. The preceding section implies that the way the male subject came to submit himself to this ideology is not adequately described by a transcription of the material conditions of Surrealism alone. After all, the male Surrealists were distinct individuals, bringing to their circle a variety of determinants without unanimity, and they presumably experienced themselves as free agents. Moreover, if one of the paradigms of their treatment of the image of Woman genuinely was a metaphoric, autoerotic practice, I must assume that they had, paradoxically, a tacit agreement to leave one another alone, at least in some symbolic space. Perhaps this would explain why the Surrealists had nothing but reproof for interpretation in general. Yet they did have meaningful relations with their circle, implying that certain unspoken communal values circulated amongst them.

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