Snead was born in London and, along with her mother, fled home at a young age, keeping her destination secret from her father, who was mentally unstable and potentially dangerous.
Around the age of 20 Snead became depressed, possibly a genetic tendency inherited from her father. "Try this, that and the other," she wrote. "No satisfaction, lonely, bored. During my early 20s, deep depressions started to descend, self-pitying they were, and would hang around for months. I cried a lot, wanted to hibernate like the bears or to be very old or dead."
|Begonias, 1936, Oil on Canvas, 12" x 16|
She came to life in 1936 after being taken with a friend's painting, so much so that she too decided to create art. Her paintings are characterized by a nocturnal palette, exotic animals, New Mexico-style planes, ancient sculptures and ruins, sophisticated feminine style, all experienced through a warped, all-seeing perspective.
She stopped painting abruptly in 1950, after again battling depression. Towards the end of her life, Snead was "rediscovered" as an artist, and had the opportunity to witness the positive critical response to her work.
"In 1998, I had turned 88 and time was running out to be rediscovered as a painter," she wrote. "Quite suddenly the doors were flung open, and there was Neil Zukerman wanting to do just that! A solo exhibition in April 1999; a handsome catalogue; enthusiasm, encouragement, kindness, reliability, generosity. What lovely luck!?"
The names most often associated with surrealism, the avant-garde cultural movement born in the 1920s, include Max Ernst, Salvador Dalí, Man Ray, Hans Arp, Marcel Duchamp and Yves Tanguy, among others.
Surprise, surprise, they're all men.
Thankfully, Sotheby's is now hoping to illuminate the many women artists who deserve equal recognition, those who also expressed the convoluted details of their interior worlds with sharp lines and bold colors. The upcoming exhibition "Cherchez la Femme: Women and Surrealism" will feature more well-known names like Frida Kahlo and Leonora Carrington, along with many even surrealist buffs may not recognize.
"A lot of it is still fairly unknown to the general public, even to surrealism enthusiasts," Julian Dawes, a Sotheby’s vice president who organized the show, explained to The New York Times. "Male surrealists look at women as objects of desire. The female surrealists sort of treat women as looking inward."
by Priscilla Frank, excerpt from 7 Forgotten Women Surrealists Who Deserve To Be Remembered
Shared with permission of the author.
You can read more about the artist here.