Download Full Text (31.3 MB)


Objectification of women in Male Surrealist art depicted the male gaze in its darkest form, through the ideas of the uncanny, fetish, and convulsive beauty. Women were treated as objects throughout Surrealist photography and painting instead of as human subjects. Their femininity and beauty were valued to the extent of held belief that a woman’s destiny is to be beautiful and be present for the male gaze. Women Surrealists have gained notoriety in the last sixty years for their presence in the Surrealist movement and for their diligence in providing the female perspective in opposition to the male perspective.

This study observes the photographic works of the Women Surrealists, Claude Cahun and Francesca Woodman, and their method of response to the objectification of women while also examining the political context of Claude Cahun’s involvement in the Surrealist movement and the influence of Andre Breton, Claude Cahun and other early surrealist artists on late surrealist artist Francesca Woodman. Photographs, surrealist texts, and journal entries are used as primary sources to approach and reason why these two artists chose the medium of photography as their method response, and how objectification, photography, and the self-portrait incited the modern artist-as-subject trend through Claude Cahun and Francesca Woodman.

Publication Date


Subject Major(s)

Art History and Women's Studies


art history, art theory, surrealism, photography, women's studies


Modern Art and Architecture | Photography | Women's Studies

Current Academic Year


Faculty Advisor/Mentor

Mary Boyes


© The Author(s)

Women Surrealist Photographers and Their Response to the Objectification of Women in Male Surrealist Art