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Remedios Varo

SURREALISM, A MOVEMENT THAT valorized a “feminine” position while at the same time defining this position in traditional terms as irrational and unconscious, gave us Woman as no-longer-placid muse. But this Ophelia unbound took flight only through her impersonation by male artists who, while they valued imagination, could not imagine female subjectivity. As in the movie Tootsie, in which the best woman is a man, or in Jacques Derrida’s privileging of the feminine position of the reader so long as femininity is not specifically ensconced in a female body, the best madwoman was a sane male Surrealist artist.

Yet the visual, formal, and imaginative permissions of Surrealism, and its sexual and erotic obsessions with Woman, opened a door for women artists. The Parisian movement, centered on an irrational female Other, attracted a group of women who were de facto others—foreigners: Leonora

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