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        Czech painter. Born in Prague in 1902, died 1980 in Paris.

        Attended the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Prague and in 1922 met Jindrich Styrsky in Yugoslavia...

        Enlarge image | Toyen, 1919 (Aged 17) (Low Quality Scan)
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      • BIOGRAPHY Source

        Toyen turned her back on her family while still an adolescent, baptised herself with an obscure and genderless patronymic that may or may not derive from the French word for citizen, citoyen, and joined the anarchist milieu of Prague. As the center of new life and energy in a modern Czechoslovakia born out of the ruins of the Hapsburg empire in 1918, Prague was experiencing an artistic and cultural revolution...After taking a short course in painting at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Prague,Toyen joined the Devetsil group in 1923 with Styrsky, whom she had met in Yugoslavia the previous year.

        In the fall of 1925 Toyen and Styrsky left for three years in Paris where the Cubists syntax of their earlier work gradually gave way to quasi-abstract compositions. In Paris, Toyen's work became somber, sometimes melancholy in tone, heavily inpastoed, and filled with corrugated surfaces and structures... She embraced "poetic artificialism... Toyen and Styrsky exhibited their first Artificialist compositions at the Galerie de L'Art Contemporain in 1926; a year later they organised a joint exhibition at the Galerie Vavin. Philippe Soupault wrote the preface, commenting on the strength and power of Toyen's work. Weirdly, we do not know what other Surrealists thought of her work at the time, and Toyen's name does not appear in Surrealist periodicals of those years.

        Back in Prague, howeer, her work quickly began to move in a Surrealist direction...

        In the early 1930s Styrsky discovered Lautreamont and Sade, two of Surrealism's most celebrated precusors. In 1932, he published in his erotic Editions 69 a Czech translation of Justine illustrated by Toyen...

        Fueled by his recent discovery of the modern world's most inflammatory sexual revolutionary, Styrsky made a pilgramage that same year to the ruins of Sade's ancestral home, the Chateau la Coste. He returned with a group of strange photographs of crumbling and overgrown walls and doors. These images, suffused with an air of mystery and menace, soon found their way into Toyen's painting.

        The discovery had a profound effect on her work. She firmly integrated the erotic into the emotional content of her painting and used eroticism as the basis for a new language of psychological association and suggestion. She surrounded herself with erotic objects, pornographic photograph, and body parts cut from magazines. The poet Annie le Brun relates that at the age of seventy years Toyen continued to go several times a week to the cinema to see X-rated films.

        She was the only Surrealist to have developed an erotic humour, at once charming and playful.

        Founder and member of the Surrealits Group in Prague from 1934 until the German occupation of Czechoslovakia forced her underground.

        Executed three cycles of drawings before and during the war: The Spectres of the Desert (1937 - 38), The Rifle Range (1939 - 40). and Hide Yourself War (1944), published in 1946.

        Settled in Paris in 1947 where she remained until the end of her life.

        A retrospective exhibition of the work of Toten, Styrsky and Jindrich Heisler was held at the Musee National d'Art Modern, Centre George Pompidou, Paris, in 1982.

        Exhibitions: London (1936), Tokyo (1937), Paris (1938), Amsterdam (1938), Paris (1947).

        Source: Women Artists and the Surrealist Movement
        Further Reading: Toyen (La Septieme face du de) (French Edition)

        T O Y E N

        Enlarge image | Toyen - Relache, 1943 (Low Quality Scan)
        Oil on canvas. 43 x 20 3/8. Collection of the Galerie Alsova, South Bohemia
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        Enlarge image | Toyen - Au Chateau la Coste, 1946 (Low Quality Scan)
        Oil on canvas. 39 3/8 x 25 1/2
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        Enlarge image | Toyen - L'Avant Printemps, 1945 (Low Quality Scan)
        Oil on canvas. 35 x 57 1/2. Collection of Musee National d'Art Modern, Centre George Pompidou, Paris
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        Enlarge image | Toyen - Illustration from Seules ls crecerelles pissent tranquillement sur les Dix Commandements by Jindrich Heisler, 1939 (Low Quality Scan)
        Ed. Surrealistes, Prague
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        Enlarge image | Toyen - Voix de la Foret, 1934 (Low Quality Scan)
        Oil on canvas. 36 x 28 1/2. Collection of the Galerie Morave, Brno
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        Recommended Reading: Styrsky, Toyen, Heisler: Musee national d'art moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou (French Edition)

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