The evolution of the alchemical androgyne in symbolist and surrealist art

Grew, Rachael (2010) The evolution of the alchemical androgyne in symbolist and surrealist art. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Printed Thesis Information:


The relationship between Symbolism and Surrealism is well known yet scarcely documented in detail. This thesis aims to address this oversight by exploring the connections between these two movements, specifically through investigating their shared motif of the androgyne. The androgyne embodies the professed aim of each of these groups: the transcendence of the physical in favour of the ephemeral for the Symbolists, and the unification of opposites for the Surrealists. Equally, both movements have an interest in the occult, and the androgyne is a key image within the occult tradition symbolising spiritual unity, dovetailing with the Symbolists’ and the Surrealists’ goals.

The androgyne will be analysed firstly within the context of alchemy, surveying the way in which it is portrayed in primary sources, and how this has changed in Symbolist and Surrealist art. It will also be analysed in the contexts of psychoanalysis and gender identity, observing how male and female artists portray the androgyne differently and why. The aim of this thesis is therefore two-fold: firstly, a comparative study of the iconography employed by these connected movements, to original alchemical sources, and also between the male and female artists of these movements. Secondly, it aims to create a more secure basis for the notion of alchemical influence on Symbolism and Surrealism.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Additional Information: Due to copyright restrictions the full text of this thesis cannot be made available online. Access to the printed version is available once any embargo periods have expired
Keywords: Surrealism, Symbolism, androgyne, alchemy, iconography
Subjects: N Fine Arts > N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR
N Fine Arts > NC Drawing Design Illustration
N Fine Arts > ND Painting
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts & Humanities > School of Culture and Creative Arts > History of Art
Supervisor's Name: Hopkins, Prof. David and Lewer, Dr. Debbie
Date of Award: 2010
Depositing User: Ms Rachael Grew
Unique ID: glathesis:2010-1858
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 09 Jul 2010
Last Modified: 10 Jun 2013 15:37

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