Surrealism and eroticism  

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"Eroticism was the theme of a major surrealist exhibition held in 1959. Designed by Breton and Marcel Duchamp, it was arranged as a journey through a series of feminine spaces. Visitors entered the gallery through a 'love grotto', a dark cavernous tunnel that led to a rose-coloured chamber where the ceiling seemed to breathe in and out. The recording of women's orgasmic sighs, made specially for that exhibition and not heard publicly since, is played in this space." [1]

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In the mid 20th century, surrealism offered new modes of representation of the nude. For surrealist artists, the erotic became a way of exploring ideas of fantasy, the unconscious and the dream state. Artists such as Paul Delvaux, Giorgio de Chirico and Max Ernst are well known surrealist artists that dealt with the erotic directly.


Desire Unbound

Desire Unbound

Tate Modern's Surrealism: Desire Unbound was an exhibition on surrealism organized at the Tate gallery in 2001 (20 September to 1 January). Its emphasis was on the relationship between Surrealism and eroticism. For the first time, it prominently put the work of Hans Bellmer on the map.

Sade's influence on Surrealism

Sade's influence on Surrealism

The post-Freud and post-Marx surrealists sought to liberate and give expression to the mysterious and aggressive drives lurking within the unconscious mind and had great interest in the Marquis de Sade.

The first Manifesto of Surrealism (1924) announced that "Sade is surrealist in sadism." Guillaume Apollinaire found rare manuscripts by Sade in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris. He published a selection of his writings in 19091, where he introduced Sade as "the freest spirit that had ever lived." Sade was celebrated in surrealist periodicals.

Investigating Sex: Surrealist Discussions 1928-1932

Investigating Sex: Surrealist Discussions 1928-1932

In January 1928, long before Kinsey or Masters and Johnson began their clinical surveys, the Paris surrealists initiated their own "researches into sexuality" in the form of twelve round table discussions. Participants included many of surrealism's best known figures: Andre Breton, Paul Eluard, Louis Aragon, Max Ernst, Man Ray, Antonin Artaud, Benjamin Peret, Jacques Prevert, Marcel Duhamel, Yves Tanguy, Pierre Unik, Pierre Naville, etc... The results of these discussions were partly published in La Révolution surréaliste.

The English language translations were published in Investigating Sex: Surrealist Discussions 1928-1932, edited by Jose Pierre, translated by Malcolm Imire and published by Verso in 1992.

L'Érotique du surréalisme

Robert Benayoun Érotique du surréalisme, J. J. Pauvert, 1965

Surréalisme et sexualité

Surréalisme et sexualité (1971) is a book by Xavière Gauthier. The book was a feminist critique of Surrealism and inspired further scholarship related to the marginalization of women in relation to "the avant-garde."

See also

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