Surrealism was ostensibly directed at the emancipation of the human spirit, but it represented only male aspirations and fantasies until a number of women artists began to redefine its agenda in the later 1930s. This book addresses the former, using a "thick description" of the historically specific circumstances which required the male Surrealists to manufacture a sexual reputation of narcissism and misogyny. These circumstances were determined by "hegemonic masculinity," an ideological construct which had little to do with individual masculinities. In male Surrealism, the "beribboned bomb" signified something both attractive and volatile, a specific instance of the Surrealist principle of convulsive beauty. In hegemonic masculinity, similar devices served as metaphors of the sexuality all men were supposed to possess. The intersection of these two axes produced an imagery of unrepentant violence.
Robert Belton has taught the history of art and art theory at McMaster University, the University of Western Ontario, and Queen's University. He is Associate Professor of Art History at Okanagan University College in Kelowna, B.C. Dr. Belton has published two other books with the University of Calgary Press: The Theatre of the Self: The Life and Art of William Ronald and Sights of Resistance: Approaches to Canadian Visual Culture.
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