Le Viol (The Rape)
Sidelined by Magritte, Picasso and the male dominanace of art history, EILEEN AGAR has emerged as a Surrealist artist in her own right.
The Surrealist lads were, at worst, a notoriously misogynistic bunch. At best they viewed women simply as muses, entertaining sex kittens or man-devouring nymphomaniacs. But one woman who had no truck with these categories was Eileen Agar. Agar was determinedly first and foremost a Surrealist artist and, in the centenary of her birth, the National Gallery Of Modern Art is showing over 120 of her works.
Born in Argentina, Agar came to Britain to study at the Slade School Of Art in the 19205, later moving on to study in Paris under the Cubist painter, Frantisek Foltyn. In 1936 she was the only professional British woman artist to be selected to show alongside Picasso, Max Ernst and Miro in the London Internationalist Surrealist Exhibition.
Her work — ranging from collages, found objects and
photography — fast found favour around the world, and she become close friends of Roland Penrose, the writer and collector who did much to promote Surrealism in Britain. When Agar died in 1991, she had proved herself as one of century’s most dynamic artists.
Eileen Agar is at the National Gallery Of Modern Art, Edinburgh, until Sun 27 Feb.
2—16 Dec 1999 THE lIST 15