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Czech/French Surrealist painter, born in Prague as Maria Čermínová. She adopted the name Toyen while still an adolescent. It is genderless and may have associations with ‘citoyen’. In the early 1920s she joined the Devětsil group of radical artists and writers, and went to Paris in 1925 with her partner, the poet and painter Jindřich Štyrský (1899–1942). In 1926 they exhibited what they called ‘artificialist’ paintings. On returning to Prague they moved closer to Surrealism and became drawn to revolutionary politics. Štyrský died in 1942 during the German occupation. In 1947, Toyen moved to Paris where she remained until her death and was acclaimed by André Breton. She was fascinated by the Marquis de Sade. His ruined ancestral home, the Château de la Coste, appears in many of her paintings, including her most, celebrated work, Au Château de la Coste (1946). In this a wolf emerges from the cracks in the crumbling fungus-ridden wall to crush a bird. A film about her life by the Czech director Jan Němec was released in 2005.

http://www.kinokultura.com/specials/4/toyen.shtml P. Hames, ‘Jan Němec: Toyen’, 2006, on the Kinokultura website.

Subjects: Art.

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