Vaudevisuals Bookshelf: ‘Farewell to the Muse’.

FAREWELL TO THE MUSE: Love, War and the Women of Surrealism

by Whitney Chadwick

Farewell to the Muse documents what it meant to be young, ambitious, and female in the context of an avant-garde movement defined by celebrated men whose backgrounds were often quite different from those of their younger lovers and companions. Focusing on the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s, Whitney Chadwick charts five female friendships among the Surrealists to show how Surrealism, female friendship, and the experiences of war, loss, and trauma shaped individual women’s transitions from someone else’s muse to mature artists in their own right. Her vivid account includes the fascinating story of Claude Cahun and Suzanne Malherbe in occupied Jersey, as well as the experiences of Lee Miller and Valentine Penrose at the front line.

Chadwick draws on personal correspondence between women, including the extraordinary letters between Leonora Carrington and Leonor Fini during the months following the arrest and imprisonment of Carrington’s lover Max Ernst and the letter Frida Kahlo shared with her friend and lover Jacqueline Lamba years after it was written in the late 1930s.

This history brings a new perspective to the political context of Surrealism as well as fresh insights on the vital importance of female friendship to its progress.

50 illustrations, 20 in color.

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REVIEW – Booklist

“Set within a vividly realized historical context, steeped in psychological perceptions, and richly illustrated, Chadwick’s unique look at the women of surrealism deepens our understanding of the movement and the lives of women artists in a time of chaos and catastrophic war. She channels the intensity of these courageous and radical women in stories of astonishing resiliency, camaraderie, complicated love, and creative synergy.

A beautiful book with very pertinent content for these days!

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Jim R. Moore

Photographer/Videographer/Recluse Founder of Vaudevisuals.com