Saturday, February 11, 2017

Toyen

The Czech surrealist (on the right, with her friend the poet and artist Jindrich Styrsky) was born 21 September 1902 in Prague. From an early age she had adopted her ungendered surname and rejected conventional attitudes to sexuality. After training at UMPRUM (the Academy of Art), she worked closely with Styrsky until his death in 1942. They exhibited and travelled together: in Paris the two of them founded an alternative to surrealism they called 'artificialism'. Toyen's work was often erotic in content; she contributed to Styrsky's journal Erotika Revue (only 150 copies were printed). They eventually founded the Czech Surrealist Group. During World War II they were forced underground; Styrsky died of a heart condition. Toyen and second artistic partner Jindrich Heisler fled to Paris. Toyen survived the war and remained in Paris, where she died in 1980.