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The Last Voyage of Captain Cook was among Roland Penrose’s contributions to the 1936 International Surrealist Exhibition in London. The conjunction of disparate elements was typical of the objects made by Surrealists in the 1930s. The plaster torso came from an art supplier’s, while the globe was made by a bicycle repairer. Penrose later suggested that the striped torso represented the idea of woman being like the Earth. Among other associations, the work may suggest that Cook was an explorer of the mysterious and the erotic.

December 2005