Françoise Tournié, Paris (sold: Calmels-Cohen, Paris, Collection Françoise Tournié, 22nd June 2006, lot 36)
Purchased at the above sale by the present owner
Paris, Galerie Raymond Cordier, Toyen, 1960, no. 23
New York, D'Arcy Gallery, Surrealist Intrusion in the Enchanters' Domain, 1960-61, no. 141
Saint-Etienne, Musée d’Art Moderne, Toyen. Une femme surréaliste, 2002, no. 113, illustrated in colour in the catalogue
Saint-Louis (Alsace), Espace d'Art Contemporain Fernet-Branca, Chassé-croisé. Dada-Surréaliste 1916-1969, 2012, illustrated in colour in the catalogue
Marseille, Musée Cantini, Le Rêve, 2016-17, illustrated in colour in the catalogue
In La nuit roule des cris the enigmatic title captures the other-worldly spirit of the composition. From amongst the ghostly branches of a tree, two heads materialise as points of colour against a monochromatic background. Each symmetrical, it is unclear whether they are birds or butterflies; their forms remain mysterious and unresolved. Karel Srp observes this feature of her late work, explaining: ‘The theme of doubling – which appears from time to time in the paintings and drawings of the 1930s – returns through the idea of a mirror, prevailing in spectacular fashion in certain works from the 1950s through the frequent use of symmetry’ (K. Srp, Toyen. Une femme surréaliste, op. cit., p. 188). He goes on to add, ‘the sombre silhouettes of birds emerge from layers of superimposed colours […]. The heads of foxes, owls, sort of luminous cores, surface from obscurity. A glimmer pierces the darkness, whispers of colour disturb a monochrome background […]. Toyen’s mirrors are liquid; they don’t reflect objects with precision, instead clouding their aspect and altering them considerably’ (ibid., p. 192, translated from French).
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