Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Horse Spring on Helicon?

Francis Picabia, "The Dance at the Spring" (1912)
The male desire to view women as powerful and inspiring and yet still controllable was often expressed through the conflation of feminine themes with images of machines. In contrast, female self imagery was associated with animals and fantasy creatures. These two themes, machine and animal, can be effectively utilized to expose differing assumptions and goals of men and women within the Surrealist movement. Through the examination of these contrasting images, the male/female dynamic as it functioned within the context of Surrealism is clarified.

In order to make the relationship between the story of Gradiva and woman-machine imagery readily apparent, one needs to consider the underlying messages being conveyed rather than the surface form. Seen from the point of view of composition, the machine imagery of Francis Picabia bears little resemblance to the work of Classical Greece. However, when viewed within the context of male desire for control over female activity, the connection becomes evident.
-Alan Foljambe, "Surrealism and the Story of Gradiva: Male Idealization of Women"

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