Dreams of Desire 32 (Sleeping Girl)

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Toyen
An exquisite drawing by Toyen of a sleeping girl, one of her favourite themes, being watched by a sea-horse. The heavy shading, fissures and the architectural elements adds an illusionistic depth to the drawing, that manages to convey a dream-like sensuality with an admirable simplicity.

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38 thoughts on “Dreams of Desire 32 (Sleeping Girl)

  1. It looks like she’s been drawn on a section of broken pillar and that the pillar has been thrown in the sea. Or that the city in which the pillar once stood has been flooded (Atlantis?) and the fissures kind of reflect that same feeling. Dreamy and desirable. Waited till I could get a closer look at this to comment.

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      1. But I know the difference between a sea-horse and a starfish! They don’t look alike, they aren’t even close enough spelling wise to be a typo, so why? Again I have lost all respect for myself as a writer and critic.

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      1. Mr. Cake: much of your work is in the category range of excellent to brilliant. I learn so much from you every time you post. Please … you may lose respect for yourself (you most certainly shouldn’t) … but I will NEVER lose the respect I have for you and your work. And I encourage you to take a deep breath and regain your self-belief!!!!

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      2. Thank you so much Roger, I am quite pedantic in some things when the mood takes me, and of course it is important to maintain the same standards for one self. However I think I have calmed down and I am about to climb off my high sea-horse.

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  2. Absolutely, an exquisite drawing by Toyen, so delicate and beautiful. It looks as if the image of the girl is part of a decorative painting that was perhaps once a wall, and definitely underwater, unless the seahorse is flying. Lovely Mr. Cake, do you have more information on this particular drawing?

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    1. I don’t unfortunately, it is listed as recently sold by Sotheby’s at a recent (2014) and massive international Czech interwar avant garde sale and is listed simply as female form. Toyen was unsurprisingly the star of the show (though Styrsky, Sima and Capek all fetched record prices). A lot of the Toyen came from the collection of, you guessed it, Andre Breton as they were very close from the time of Toyen’s relocation to Paris in 1947. This was a snip at 1,500 pounds whereas The Message in the Forest broke the million mark.

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      1. I am surprised as well, I can only think that because she produced a great quantity of them (though the line and the draughtmanship is impeccable in every one) that this has diluted the market. Whereas her paintings go for huge prices and the market is only getting stronger. Regardless of price this is a beautiful and exquisite drawing.

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      2. I have a thing for books and I have some rare ones. I was thinking about maybe buying and selling as a pastime and I brought a book about that, and it listed the various grades etc, the bottom grade is ‘good for nothing apart from reading’. Strange worlds exist right here.

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  3. I have been thinking about starfish all night. The girl as a star, the rays of the star emanating in the little cracks, the underwater world confirmed by the seahorse … but, and above all, the concept in my own mind that this was indeed a starfish being looked at by a seahorse. Surrealism works in strange ways … and suggests different things to different people … obviously …

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    1. I have been thinking about that sea-horse as well. Is he guarding her in the undersea realm. Is he a symbol of androgyny (I do not know if Toyen knew about the curious gender reversal in sea horses and I try to avoid being ham fisted regarding symbolism. Sea horse and starfish, a Freudian slip and the surrealists liked their Freud.

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      1. Of course: however not, especially when she goes through the looking-glass … a favorite image of mine and one used much by Antonio Machado, though he uses the water image (Spain) rather than the glass image.

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      2. Strangely enough I only saw this comment after my new post on Toyen which is called The Mirror. Mind you I could devote a whole book to mirrors, they are never far from my thoughts.

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