Toyen, one of the most important surrealist artists of the twentieth century, was born 120 years ago.
Toyen was born as Marie Čermínová on September 21, 1902 in Prague’s Smíchov district to a family of a postal clerk. She started living on her own at only 16, rejecting the traditional female role. Yet she couldn’t complain about the lack of interest from men. Both the Czech poet Vítězslav Nezval and French poet Paul Éluard fell in love with the painter, who dressed in a tuxedo and referred to herself as “he”. She met the latter in Paris, which became her second home and where she also died in November 1980.
The exhibition of Toyen’s work called Toyen: The Dreaming Rebel, attracted huge attention both in Prague and Hamburg last year. The show eventually landed in Paris, where French visitors could discover works Toyen did before coming to France or previously unknown paintings from private collections.
In 2021, Toyen’s painting Circus from 1925 was auctioned for CZK 80 million, setting a record price for a work by the avant-garde painter. This spring, her painting Solitary Man was sold for CZK 54 million.
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