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In Dalí, for example, sexuality is often brutal, carnal, or grotesque, but in most instances it is almost always overtly masculine, feminine, or masculine/feminine; gender rarely seems confused or ambiguous.

Dalí's painting Crucifixion (1954) presents a typical example. Dalí's interpretation of Christ on the cross, often an eroticized form in art, is extreme and austere; the draped woman gazing at the hovering form of Christ on the enormous geodesic cross suggests heterosexual longing, though there is nothing in the features of Christ himself that suggests homoerotic desire on the part of the artist. Through both topic and depiction, typical sexuality is subverted, but not in any way that suggests homosexual desire.

Surrealistic filmmakers, like surrealist writers, had more freedom in their celluloid creations, and one can find splashes of homoeroticism in the works of Cocteau and Buñuel.

Buñuel's film Los Olvidaros (1950), for example, features a minor homosexual character (who, alas, is portrayed in a typically predatory manner) and also presents a male-dominant homosocial portrait of street-life in poverty-stricken, urban Mexico.

Cocteau, who was himself homosexual, offers similar glimpses of homosexuality in his works.

Surrealism failed to achieve significant popularity in 1930s America, and as World War II loomed, the movement began to wane in Europe as well. Its influences, however, are widespread; and surrealism and the surrealists, despite the anti-homosexual stance of their leaders, have been embraced by homosexual communities and artists worldwide.

Thus, while surrealism as a visual art did not initially embrace its homosexual members, it is now often the homosexual painters, critics, and writers who have worked to keep the movement alive as an artistic expression.

Michael G. Cornelius

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arts >> Overview:  European Art: Twentieth Century

A large number of significant twentieth-century European artists focused on gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender themes, making such concerns crucial to the understanding of twentieth-century European art.

arts >> Adrian-Nilsson, Gösta (GAN)

Regarding his sexuality as a fundamental component of his creativity, Swedish painter Gosta Adrian-Nilsson, known as GAN, fostered the development of modernist art in his native country.

arts >> Cocteau, Jean

For prolific French poet and artist Jean Cocteau, filmmaking may have served as the best medium for the expression of his genius.

social sciences >> Freud, Sigmund

The founder of psychoanalysis and the discoverer of the unconscious, Sigmund Freud initiated a fundamental transformation in the self-understanding of Western men and women, including especially the role of sexuality.

literature >> García Lorca, Federico

The works of García Lorca, internationally recognized as Spain's most prominent lyric poet and dramatist of the twentieth century, are filled with thinly veiled homosexual motifs and themes.

arts >> Gober, Robert

Sculptor Robert Gober is among only a few openly gay American artists to achieve an international reputation as one of the great artists of our time.

literature >> Roditi, Edouard

Poet, translator, literary and art critic, and short story writer, Edouard Roditi was associated with most of the twentieth-century's avant-garde literary movements from Surrealism to post-modernism.

arts >> Sekula, Sonja

Swiss-born artist Sonja Sekula created small-scale abstract images with profound emotional power.


Bataille, Georges. The Absence of Myth: Writings on Surrealism. Michael Richardson, ed. and trans. London: Verso, 1994.

Breton, André. Surrealism and Painting. Simon Watson Taylor, trans. New York: Harper and Row, 1972.

Caws, Mary Ann. The Surrealist Look: An Erotics of Encounter. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1999.

Jean, Marcel, ed. The Autobiography of Surrealism. New York: Viking Press, 1980.

Lomas, David. The Haunted Self: Surrealism, Psychoanalysis, Subjectivity. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2001.

Matthews, J. H. Imagery of Surrealism. Syracuse, N. Y.: Syracuse University Press, 1977.

_____. Languages of Surrealism. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1986.

Nadeau, Maurice. The History of Surrealism. Richard Howard, trans. New York: Macmillan, 1965.

Walz, Robin. Pulp Surrealism: Insolent Popular Culture in Early Twentieth-Century Paris. Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2000.


    Citation Information
    Author: Cornelius, Michael G.  
    Entry Title: Surrealism  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2002  
    Date Last Updated November 14, 2005  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2002, glbtq, Inc.  


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