In 1978 Dorothea Tanning painted Notes for an Apocalypse, a spectacular Dionysian canvas, representing both tragic tableau and magical rebirth. As this painterly visual narrative offers itself to the senses, the viewer is prompted to narrativise it or set the scene in response. A creased tablecloth crumples as a contorted, fleshy body materialises from beneath. She (for this curvaceous, blushing nude prompts us to read it as feminine) appears to hold a burning solar orb while a grotesque incubus squats at her feet. There is a convulsive, erotic violence suggested in this painting, a disruptive presence which, Tanning seems to indicate, underlies the grid-like order of reality. This chapter will consider the ways in which a violent erotic aesthetic in both text and image has been reclaimed by a distinctly feminist wing of artists and writers in the Surrealist and post-Surrealist pantheon, situated in rebellion against those normalising narratives of bourgeois masculinity to which many male Surrealist artists, writers and thinkers continue to adhere.
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- Sadeian Women: Erotic Violence in the Surrealist Spectacle
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