fbpx Biennale Arte 2022 | Valentine Penrose
La Biennale di Venezia

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Valentine Penrose

1898, France – 1978, UK


  • TUE - SUN
    23/04 > 25/09
    11 AM - 7 PM

    27/09 > 27/11
    10 AM - 6 PM
  • Central Pavilion
  • Admission with ticket

In 1951 the writer and artist Valentine Penrose published Dons des féminines, the story of two upper-middle-class European women on a trip to the East. The “gifts” in the title are the freedom and autonomy claimed by the protagonists, Maria Elona and Rubia, who travel alone, dress like men, and live out their lesbian love story without inhibitions. The intimate relationship between the two women – perhaps inspired by Penrose’s affection for the artist Alice Rahon, with whom she embarked on a similar trip to India in 1936–1937 – is borne out by the wildly eccentric collages that combine images from science and fashion magazines to create magical landscapes where plants, animals, and monsters backdrop the two women’s personal and psychological path of discovery. Predating Dons des féminines by about twenty years, the hallucinatory collages shown here seem crafted from the same dreams. The two women in Ariane (1934) stand in a natural landscape, their bodies framing a city in the distance. This scene is interrupted by a strange golden insect with two human legs, a bizarre creature that affects the composition in the same way as the statue/sideboard that floats over the mountainous landscape in La Stratégie militaire (1934). Both bric-à-brac figures suggest the unexpected impact of the unconscious on even the most familiar aspects of reality. 

Stefano Mudu

Central Pavilion
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