The International Surrealism Exhibition at the Wildenstein gallery in Paris in early 1938 was the crowning moment for Surrealist activity in the 1930s in the city that had witnessed the movement’s birth. Overseen by Marcel Duchamp, the exhibition was conceived as a total art work in which the conventional space of the gallery was completely disguised. Alongside Salvador Dalí’s Taxi lluvioso (Rainy Taxi) and the 1200 sacks of coal hanging from the roof of the exhibition room, one of the most remarkable installations was a street with sixteen bizarrely dressed mannequins, found in street markets by the artists of the Surrealist group and arranged like a female cohort in the entrance hall. Man Ray contributed one mannequin and also documented the ephemeral mannequin parade, which was taken down at the exhibition’s close. Transformed by Joan Miró into a provocative and disturbing female, wearing a moustache and surrounded by a tangle of wire, this is an example of the “convulsive beauty” of the group.
Almudena Cruz Yábar