Tribute to Toyen (Anarchist/Dadaist)

Toyen (21 September 1902, Prague – 9 November 1980, Paris) was a painter, drafter, illustrator and a member of surrealist movement. He adapted name Toyen in 1923 and used male pronouns for himself (some art historians insist on using female pronouns). His chosen name Toyen can be understood as “to je on” meaning this is him. Some see it as a form of French word citoyen=citizen.

Toyen’s artistic identity involved significant attention to gender issues and sexual politics. He broke all links to his family in favor of several friends who were “bound by choice”. Toyen protested against bourgeois tendencies and endorsed the anarchist movement. Forced underground during the Nazi occupation and Second World War, Toyen sheltered their second artistic partner, Jindřich Heisler, a poet of Jewish descent who had joined the Czech Surrealist Group in 1938. The two permanently relocated to Paris in 1947 and joined the Parisian Surrealists. In Paris, Toyen worked with André Breton, Benjamin Péret and other surrealists such as Annie Le Brun. Toyen would continue to collaborate with surrealist-affiliated poets and other writers