Toyen: A lifelong commitment to surrealism

  • Her work has only become popular in recent years as prior to that it was not considered "relevant"

This is a profile of an artist whose work is currently on show at the 'We are completely free. Women artists and surrealism' exhibition at the Picasso Museum in Malaga. Read more about it here.

In 1902 she was born in Prague, where she studied Fine Arts. She met Jindrich Stirsky and together they joined the Dêvetsil avant-garde group. She later moved to Paris, and changed her name.

“She objected to the word 'citoyen' (meaning citizen) because she said it was masculine and she wasn't a male citizen, so she shortened it and was just known as Toyen,” says José Lebrero.

After living in Paris, she returned to Prague, became close to Breton and was part of the surrealist group until her death in 1980. “This was somebody who was politically involved, left-wing and in favour of revolution. She fought against the concentration camps in the Second World War,” says José.

It is only in recent years that her work has become popular. “For a long time, the work of these artists has been outside the art market, because it wasn't considered relevant. Probably, art historians didn't understand its message properly,” he explains.