PRINT November 1975

Eros or Thanatos—The Surrealist Cult of Love Reexamined

IMAGES OF WOMAN DOMINATE Surrealist literature and painting. Male Surrealist artists inherited from the late-19th-century Symbolists a polarized view of woman embracing both the creative and the subversive powers of the love instinct. Simultaneously goddesslike muse and femme fatale, the Surrealist woman was located by the dialectical world view of Hegel and Marx. It was a world view in which the artist could align the polarity of the female with the other contradictions that Surrealism sought to resolve: life and death, the conscious and the unconscious, dream and wakefulness.

In his study of this dominant aspect of Surrealist imagery, Xavière Gauthier isolates and explains these contradictory attitudes toward the female and explores the multiple roles assigned her in Surrealist productions: muse, virgin, child, celestial creature, on the one hand; prostitute, devourer of men, object of

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