St. Petersburg, FL
Since the time of the Egyptians, portraits have served as documents that record an individual’s likeness at a particular moment in time. While traditional portraiture provided information and clues about the sitter’s characteristics, interests, social status or history, artists in the surrealist movement approached portraits and self-portraits in a non-traditional manner, as exemplified by the works of Salvador Dalí, Max Ernst, Leonora Carrington, and Frida Kahlo (though she rejected the title of “surrealist”).
According to curator Tere Arcq from the Museo de Arte Moderno in Mexico City, “This genre became a form of representation ‘in which the artist is both subject and object and conceives of how she looks in the sense of how she sees rather than how she appears.’” How we perceive and express ourselves—our identities—is much more complex than what we see in the mirror. The surrealists strived to reveal their hidden, authentic selves by delving into the subconscious. To this group of artists, surrealism—literally meaning above and beyond realism—was the truest way to express ones’ identity, and they used techniques like transformation, symbolism, shock and surprise to depict these non-traditional portraits.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website.