Why too many young and not so young ladies could NOT receive flowers on Mothers’ Day: Why so many trying-to-conceive, why so much infertility » Toyen, Spící (1937)
Toyen (Prague 1902 – Paris 1980) was a leading Czech Surrealist who played an important role in the International Surrealist movement.
This Description is quoted from: http://www.galerieart.cz/toyen__zivotopis.htm
From artistic, political and personal points of view, she was one of the most independent creative artists in the last century. Toyen rejected her name (Marie Cerminova) and chose to pursue her career as an artist under an assumed name – a mysterious name without a gender. She broke all links to her family in favour of several friends who were “bound by choice”. Toyen protested against bourgeois tendencies and endorsed the anarchist movement. She disclaimed any suggestion that she play a traditional woman’s role by leading an independent way of life and, on the other hand, displaying no compromise for the quality of her work.
Although Toyen’s life was full of personal turbulences and misfortunes, her work retained authenticity and inner consistency. In the early 1920s, she began her lifelong friendship with the Czech painter, photographer and poet, Jindrich Styrsky (1899-1942). This was a remarkable union of two individuals who inspired, influenced and complemented each other. In 1923, they joined a young avantgarde artists’ association Devetsil. In her early works, Toyen played with post-Cubism with puristic impulses. In mid-1920s, however, she created a series of naive paintings with hedonistic motifs. At the end of 1926, Toyen and Styrsky left Prague and moved to Paris. In the following year, they announced their own alternative to both of the leading avantgarde trends in Paris, Abstraction and Surrealism – Artificialism.
By the end of the 1920s, Toyen’s work become sufficiently Surrealist. In 1934, she became one of the founding members of the Czech Surrealist Group in Prague, which was in close cooperation with Breton’s group. In 1935, Andre Breton and the poet Paul Eluard came to Prague and began a lifelong friendship with Toyen, interrupted only by the Nazi invasion and conquest of Czechoslovakia. During the years of the occupation, Toyen’s art went underground as Surrealism was another of the “Degenerate” art movements banned by the Nazis, and Toyen, although she worked throughout the war years, could not exhibit. After the war, she showed her work briefly in Prague before fleeing to Paris in 1947 to escape the Communist takeover. Back in Paris, she worked until the end of her life with Breton and the French poet Benjamin Peret, as well as with Czech poet Jindrich Heisler.
Toyen regarded painting as a natural need free of any ambition. She never conformed to the demands and claims of gallery owners and art critics. Exhibiting her paintings was an opportunity to express her friendship with Surrealist poets, who wrote poems for her or texts for her catalogues. The French edition of Toyen monograph from 1953 includes works by André Breton, Benjamin Péret, and Jindřich Heisler.
After her death, a retrospective of her work and of her collaborations with her Czech colleagues was shown at the Centre Georges Pompidou, and in the following years, a number of important retrospectives were held.