Fantastic Women

25.7.20 - 8.11.20

A first overall presentation of - the often overlooked and forgotten - women surrealist artists. This groundbreaking exhibition shows that women played a more important and numerous role in Surrealism than in any other artistic avant-garde movement.

An exhibition of Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt, in cooperation with Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk

C.L. Davids Fond og Samling and Aage og Johanne Louis-Hansens Fond generously support this exhibition.

While a great number of the male surrealists – Magritte, Dalí, Miró og Max Ernst – remain widely known and celebrated, few people today still have much familiarity with the majoirty of female Surrealists. And this in spite of the fact that many of these women artists were part of the inner circle around the french writer, poet and chief apologist of Surrealism, André Breton, and actively took part in seminal Surrealist exhibitions of the day.

34 artists

Well-known names

Fantastic Women - Surreal Worlds is the first, fascinating and comprehensive presentation of 34 women surrealist artists from Europe, the US and Mexico. The exhibition showcases their diverse approaches to the ideas of the movement, tracing the outline of their oeuvre and highlighting their singular contribution to the Surrealist vocabulary.

Alongside well-known names like Louise Bourgeois, Frida Kahlo, Leonora Carrington and Meret Oppenheim, this will be the first opportunity to experience artists like Kay Sage, Leonor Fini and Toyen in Denmark.


Though a number of the women in this show at first were partners, muses or models for the male surrealists, they were also - and this has often been overlooked - also actively practicing artists and contributed actively and importantly to the great Surrealist exhibitions of the time.

This exhibition kicks off at the start of the 1930s, when the first examples of women’s artistic contributions to the common activities of the Surrealist group in Paris were real­ized.

The female Surrealists were typically younger than their male colleagues and therefore created many of their main works in the 1940s and 1950s. Although the Surrealist group continued to organise exhibitions until the 1960s and was only dissolved in 1969, many art-historical observers have claimed that Surrealism ceased with the end of World War II. This view in fact bears some of the blame for the lack of attention given to the female artists.

Hybrid beings and demonic seducers

The exhibition shows that the female artists worked within thematic areas which in many cases were already associated with Surrealism, but also how they differ from their male colleagues - not least in the search for a (new) female model of identity. This often involved an examination of their own reflections and a play on various roles, body image and female sexuality.

The female artists rebelled against gender-specific role behaviour and often represented themselves with strikingly androgynous features or in unusual roles or disguises. In the quest for an imagery that could be used as a template for female identity, they would often seek out hybrid beings, symbols of metamorphosis and change or depict demonic seductresses and femmes fatales.