Document Type

Student Research Paper


Spring 2019

Academic Department


Faculty Advisor(s)

Dr. Brian Newsome and Dr. Vanessa Borilot


Examining the ways in which female artists adapted the Surrealist concept of liberty to the twentieth-century women’s movements, this essay focuses on the political and creative productions of photographer Claude Cahun (1894-1954, née Lucy Schwob), painter Frida Kahlo (1907-1954), and writer Leonora Carrington (1917-2011). Living in France and on the island of Jersey, Cahun worked more closely with the founding Surrealists than did Kahlo or Carrington, who spent most of their careers in Mexico. From their unique vantage points—yet within the Surrealist framework—all three artists advanced equality. Though only Carrington aligned directly with the Women’s Liberation Movement, Kahlo and Cahun challenged social norms in their own ways. Both painters articulated female individuality as possible and necessary in heterosexual relationships whereas Cahun lived androgynously with her partner and wanted to erase gender distinctions.


HI400, History Honors Thesis

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