At MoMA, Grete Stern Marries Dali to Cindy Sherman

THE DAILY PIC: In the '50s, Stern has a surrealist take on female identity.


THE DAILY PIC (#1371): Yesterday’s Pic was about the uncompromising directness of Grete Stern’s vision as a portraitist, as seen in the Museum of Modern Art’s “From Bauhaus to Buenos Aires: Grete Stern and Horacio Coppola”. That made it impossible for me to resist following it up with a wildly different image from that same show, made by Stern in a fully surrealist mode. (Is it possible that women artists once tended to range more widely than men, since there was no market to push them into a signature style? It feels like another one of the Guerilla Girls’ “Advantages of Being a Woman Artist”.)

Stern’s Dream No. 28: Love Without Illusion was originally used as an illustration for a column on dreams in a women’s magazine, but also had a separate life – or afterlife – as a work of photographic art. You wonder if some smart editor knew about Stern’s surrealist experiments and then came up with a column on dreams as a safe harbor for them, or if the column existed first and it was Stern who realized the artistic potential it offered. Either way, it represents a wonderful, rare marriage of the radical and the popular.

Like most of Stern’s dream sequences, Love Without Illusion also offers a dose of gender politics that is like a weird foreshadowing of Cindy Sherman’s Untitled Film Stills – if those had taken all their cues from horror films. (© 2015 Estate of Horacio Coppola)

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