Friday, May 9, 2014

Leonora Carrington

The Old Maids
oil on board
58.2 x 73.8 cm
Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, University of East Anglia, Norwich, England
-Fair use-

Leonora Carrington (1917-2011) was born into a wealthy industrialist family in Lancashire, England, she learned at a very early age the injustice of society.
Since her parents were both very strict Irish-Catholics, they sent her away from convent to convent and then to boarding school. Finally after many rebellious acts and expulsions from school, in 1937, she succeeded in convincing her parents to let her study art at the Amedee Ozenfant Academy in London. There she lived on a modest pension from her family and established herself as a painter and a writer. In 1937, she met Surrealist Max Ernst in London, and lived with him together until the outbreak of World War II in southern France after he divorced his wife. Most critics dismissed women Surrealists, but Ernst encouraged Leonora, and she exhibited with the Surrealists internationally.

World War II put an end to Surrealism in Europe. Ernst was temporarily imprisoned as an enemy alien, and Leonora fled to Spain. There, she was institutionalized by the intervention of her family in England at a psychiatric hospital, suffering from extreme emotional distress due to her lover Max Ernst's imprisonment in a concentration camp. In fact she had several mental breakdowns. She and Ernst never resumed their relationship, and she eventually married Mexican diplomat Leduc to facilitate her flight from Europe. Following a period in New York, where she was reunited with many expatriate Surrealists, she traveled to Mexico with Leduc. In Mexico, she found a vibrant artistic community and remained in Mexico City for the rest of her life. Eventually she divorced Leduc and married Hungarian photographer.

She was honored with her first one-woman exhibition at New York’s Pierre Matisse Gallery in 1948, followed by solo and group shows around the world. Through her paintings and sculptures, she often explored notions of femininity in the whimsical, dreamlike style of Surrealism. She has written a myriad of articles, novels, essays, and poems. She has produced thousands of paintings, sculptures, collages, and a number of tapestries. She has also made many public appearances. On in particular, was the women's movement in the early 1970's, where she spoke about women's legendary powers and the need for women to take back the rights that belonged to them all along. Leonora Carrington, just as Frida Kahlo and Leonor Fini, is truly a remarkable human being and artist.