The Museum of Modern Art in Paris is devoting an exhibition to the Czech artist Marie Čermínová, known as “Toyen”, a major surrealist artist.
A major surrealist artist
Presented successively in Prague, Hamburg and Paris, this retrospective of the work of Toyen (1902-1980) is an event that allows us to discover the exceptional trajectory of a major surrealist artist who used painting to question the ‘picture. One hundred and fifty works (paintings, drawings, collages and books from museums and private collections) are presented in a five-part journey. These reflect the way in which the highlights of a quest carried out in “absolute deviation” from all known paths were articulated.
In the Czech Avant-Garde
Born in Prague, Toyen crosses the century always being at the confluence of what happens most agitating to invent her own path. At the heart of the Czech avant-garde, she created with Jindrich Styrsky (1899-1942) “artificialism” claiming a total identification “of the painter with the poet”. At the end of the 1920s, this movement was a striking prefiguration of the “lyrical abstraction” of the 1950s. But Toyen’s interest in the erotic question, like her determination to explore new sensitive spaces, brings her closer to surrealism. So she was in 1934 among the founders of the Czech surrealist movement. It was when she became friends with Paul Eluard and André Breton. During the Second World War, she hid the young Jewish poet Jindrich Heisler (1914-1953), while she produced impressive cycles of drawings, in order to capture the horror of time.
She refused the totalitarism
In 1948, refusing the totalitarianism which settled in Czechoslovakia, she came to Paris to join André Breton and the surrealist group. If she participates in all its manifestations, she occupies a special place, continuing the exploration of the night of love through what links desire and representation. Singular in everything, Toyen never stopped saying that she was not a painter, even though she is among the rare people to reveal the depth and subtleties of thought through images, whose visionary scope is still to discover.
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