Angels Of Anarchy: Women Artists And Surrealism was free at the weekend, for one day only, so I took advantage and ploughed my trusty steed through driving blizzards towards Manchester Art Gallery. You'll have to wait until after the festive break to enjoy the exhibition yourself, and pay up to £6 for the privilege, but it reopens on Sunday 27 December (then shuts again, briefly, on 31 December and 1 January) and runs until 10 January.
There are plenty of works and all media represented, by a number of women including Frida Kahlo and Claude Cahun, Dora Maat and Dorothea Tanning. There's a lot of phallic symbolism, melons of various shapes and sizes, and a whole lot of nudity. I don't quite know why naked bodies equal surrealism, but someone's obviously decided they do. There are dream sequences and fantastical scenes, queer landscapes and weird portraits, and Exquisite Corpse works (where an artist or writer draws or writes on a piece of paper, folds it over and passes it around a group so the finished item is a composite of everyone's crazy ideas - my friends and I used to play this on cold boozy evenings when we didn't have enough money to go out).
Somehow the show doesn't quite gel as a whole, and I do question this whole "women" thing. However, it does have its moments, and I very much enjoyed seeing the many photos by Lee Miller, including Portrait Of Space (1937), which was pictured above but which has been removed for copyright reasons. Intrigued, I've been looking her up, and have learnt that she she was discovered in 1926 in Manhattan by the founder of Vogue magazine, Condé Nast, who transformed her into a modelling sensation. In 1929, she went to Paris and hooked up with modernist photographer Man Ray, hanging out with him, Pablo Picasso, Paul Éluard and Jean Cocteau until 1932 when she returned to NYC and set up as a photographer herself. See the similarities between Miller's Nude Bent Forward from around 1930 and Man Ray's Violin d'Ingres of 1924 by checking them out in Google images as I can't publish them here any more thanks to my contravening copyright laws if I should.
Gosh, well isn't that a fucking dull blog post without images?