Although feet and shoes appear throughout surrealist visual art, their significance within surrealist theory has not been studied as thoroughly as other familiar themes of surrealist art, such as the eye or the hat. The purpose of this project is to recover feet and shoes from their lowly position and to uncover their meaning and function in surrealist theory, particularly the theory of Georges Bataille. Feet were implicitly important to surrealists like André Breton and Louis Aragon, whose early and central literary texts were based on their favorite pastime: flânerie or wandering the streets of Paris. Images of feet can play a role in Bataille's aim of flattening moral hierarchies, specifically the binary hierarchy of elevated/base that is figured in the horizontal orientation of the human body. Shoes can figure the loss of the self, because the peculiar intimacy of their relation with the body blurs the boundary of perceiving subject and perceived object; in this way, shoes as represented in surrealist art can flatten the epistemological hierarchy of subject/object.
College and Department
Humanities; French and Italian
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Asplund, Emily Patricia, "Les pas perdus: Images of Feet and Shoes in Surrealist Art" (2008). Theses and Dissertations. 1348.
surrealism, Bataille, foot, shoe, Magritte