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Title: Women Surrealists and hermetic imagery : androgyny and the feminine principle in the work of Ithell Colquhoun, Leonora Carrington and Remedios Varo
Author: Ferentinou, Victoria
ISNI:       0000 0001 3459 938X
Awarding Body: University of Essex
Current Institution: The University of Essex pre-October 2008
Date of Award: 2007
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This thesis focuses on the use of hermetic imagery in the work of three women artists associated with the Surrealist movement and whose pictorial/verbal vocabularies were influenced by the occult, namely Ithell Colquhoun, Leonora Carrington and Remedios '" V aro. In particular, two hermetic concepts, treated as case studies, are discussed: androgyny and the feminine principle. The examination concentrates on the work of these women but also brings into the discussion the meaning/s of the two ideas in the original sources as well as in Surrealism, since the three artists drew upon the occult but were also aware of the Surrealist discourse and by extension the Surrealist employment of the occult. This study cannot be exhaustive within the limits of a thesis. The primary objective is to establish with clarity the appropriation of androgyny and the sacred female in the oeuvre of the three artists and explore whether the significance they ascribed to these notions corroborates, contradicts or qualifies the pre-existent hermetic and Surrealist versions, thus uncovering their feminist intent. In the first part I provide the historical background of Surrealism's mounting interest in hermetic language, which was appropriated for the fabrication of a modem myth especially from the 1930s onward, and I also present the problematic position of women artists within the movement and the subsequent development of their personal mythologies that exhibit a twofold feminist/hermetic character. The next two parts centre on the two selected motifs and attempt to sketch out their conception and representation in hermeticism and in Surrealism and then to elaborate on their employment in the work of the three female Surrealists. The thesis intends to shed light on female mythmaking by Surrealist women and on the role of hermetic iconography in this process, and contributes to an elucidation of the imagery they formulated, by examining paintings and writings, several of which were hitherto rarely or partially discussed. Ab ~
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available