The Courtship
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ebrowne's picture


*singing* I can see clearly now the [male gaze] is gone. I can see all [patriarchy] in my wayyy.

I mean “clearly” is definitely an overstatement because we are still working with Surrealism, but Gertrude Abercrombie’s work was paramount in clearing up the mistaken notion that Surrealism was only for a small group of European men with exotic pets and outrageous facial hair (lookin' at you Salvador Dali). Female artists have proven themselves time and again in the art world just to have to do it over again. Gertrude had to have a venting session, which resulted in “The Courtship.” Men, man. Will they ever understand?

So there are definitely some “Boys are stupid. Throw rocks at them” undertones in this piece. The man robbing the woman. The super subtly shaped lighthouse in the background vs. the Georgia O’Keeffe-y shell in the foreground. Gertrude was a master of symbols portraying the social climate of the time. Notice, there is no actual weapon in this painting. Sure he’s pointing his finger out at her (another allusion to male anatomy) but he’s obviously all talk. She could definitely take him if she wanted to. He’s only a little bit taller than her and of course, the dress is a disadvantage, but look at him. He’s wearing man-dals! There is hope for women, yet!

The role of women as mere muses and companions to the real artists was thrown to the wayside in large part because of the efforts of one, Gertrude Abercrombie. What a woman.




  1. Egan, Brenna. “LACMA’s Latest Exhibit, in Wonderland, Features the Female Surrealist Artists of North America.” February 1, 2012.
  2. Favre, Jeff. “Female Surrealists Get Their Due at Los Angeles County Museum of Art.” February 23, 2012.