Welty and Surrealism

A comment by Dr. Pearl McHaney, left on an earlier post about a Joseph Cornell collage, sent me off reading some more about the effect of Surrealism on Miss Welty’s writing.  She has written an informative essay,  “Forays into the Surreal: Eudora Welty’s ‘The Winds’ and ‘A Sketching Trip’ and Joseph Cornell.” Miranda: Multidisciplinary Peer-reviewed Journal on the English-Speaking World. 7 (December 2012), which I enjoyed reading.

Dr. McHaney is the Associate Dean for the Fine Arts academic area at Georgia State University and her scholarly work focuses on Eudora Welty.  I am so pleased that she is a reader here OPP.

The cultural movement, Surrealism, begun in the early 1920s, is best known for its artworks which sought to shock the mainstream.  Funny enough, the advertising community jumped right onto the bandwagon. Transforming ordinary objects into glamorous fantasies made for great advertising.

I loved revisiting the  Salvadore Dali illustrations used for advertising by Schiaparelli…

Salvadore Dali ad for Schiaparelli

the element of surprise, so eyecatching…

Salvadore Dali ad for Schiaparelli

no wonder it appealed to the advertising community…

Salvadore Dali ad for Schiaparelli

for how could one not stop and take notice of such unexpected images…

Salvadore Dali ad for Schiaparelli

the technique was meant to allow the unconscious to “express itself and/or an idea/concept”…

Salvadore Dali ad for Schiaparelli

the movement eventually had far reaching effects on art, literature, music and even political thought…

Salvadore Dali ad for Schiaparelli

We know that Miss Welty was very much aware of the Surrealist movement having had her first photograph exhibit at the Photographic Galleries of Lugene Inc. which was located next door to the Julien Levy Gallery – the most influential gallery of the Surrealism period.

from Dr. McHaney’s essay:

“Scattered throughout her stories are allusions to personalities allied with the movement in the United States, including figures such as Salvador Dalí, Elsa Schiaparelli, Caresse Crosby, Wallace Simpson, Cecil Beaton, Helena Rubinstein, Elizabeth Arden, Joseph Cornell, and Charles Henri Ford. Individuals such as these and others whom surrealism seduced often lead unorthodox and controversial lives that made them natural targets for moral opprobrium. Eschewing such parochialism, Welty borrowed the idiom of surrealism to develop modernized depictions of the South, a literary strategy that revealed not only cultural farsightedness but great artistic daring.”

Eudora’s own sense of fun and embracing of Surrealism are surely evident in the dress-up play that she and her friends enjoyed…

Welty and Surrealism

 after all, everyone needs a little fun and escape from reality

and a dog to love never hurt either…

elsa schiaparelli and dog

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  1. Leslie Dement Cox says:

    FABULOUS and FASCINATING! Yet again you’ve offered another realm to investigate. Dali intrigued me when I was a young artist in the 70’s, so I suppose I will be wandering back down the road of surrealism again, and quite soon! (I continue to be enchanted by “Furlow” after your brilliant post on the man and his work, and can’t remove that book from beside the bed! – How high the pile of books beside the bed will grow from your captivating observations remains to be seen!!!)

    • mnestorc@aol.com says:

      Oh so glad to have steered you back toward Dali. I am also intrigued by him and all of the surrealist work from that era. The Furlow story is definitely one of the most captivating that I have come across and I continue to read and re-read that book. He is amazing!