Leonora Carrington

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Leonora Carrington
Born (1917-04-06)6 April 1917
Clayton-le-Woods, Lancashire, England, UK
Died 25 May 2011(2011-05-25) (aged 94)
Mexico City, Mexico
Spouse(s) Renato Leduc
Emericko Weisz
Children Gabriel and Pablo Weisz

Leonora Carrington OBE (6 April 1917 – 25 May 2011[1]) was a British-bornMexican artist, surrealist painter and novelist. She lived most of her adult life in Mexico City, and was one of the last surviving participants in the Surrealist movement of the 1930s.[2]

Early life[edit]

Carrington was born in Clayton Green, Chorley, Lancashire,[3][4] England. Her father was a wealthy textile manufacturer,[3][5] and her mother, Maureen (née Moorhead), was Irish.[3] She had three brothers: Patrick, Gerald, and Arthur.[6][7]

Educated by governesses, tutors, and nuns, she was expelled from two schools, including New Hall School, Chelmsford,[8] for her rebellious behaviour, until her family sent her to Florence where she attended Mrs Penrose's Academy of Art. Her father opposed her career as an artist, but her mother encouraged her. She returned to England and was presented at Court, but according to her, she brought a copy of Aldous Huxley's Eyeless in Gaza (1936) to read instead. In 1935, she attended the Chelsea School of Art in London for one year, and with the help of her father's friend Serge Chermayeff, she was able to transfer to Ozenfant Academy in London (1935–38).[6]

In 1927, at the age of ten, she saw her first Surrealist painting in a Left Bank gallery and met many Surrealists, including Paul Éluard.[9] She became familiar with Surrealism from a copy of Herbert Read's book, 'Surrealism' (1936), which was given to her by her mother.[7] She received little encouragement from her family to forge an artistic career. Matthew Gale, a curator at Tate Modern, singled out the Surrealist poet and patron Edward James as the only champion of her work in Britain. James bought many of her paintings and arranged a show in 1947 for her work at Pierre Matisse's Gallery in New York. Some works are still hanging at his former family home, currently West Dean College in West Dean, West Sussex.[10]

Max Ernst[edit]

Seeing Max Ernst's work in the 1936 International Surrealist Exhibition in London, Carrington was immediately attracted to the Surrealist artist before she even met him. In 1937, Carrington met Ernst at a party held in London. The artists bonded and returned together to Paris, where Ernst promptly separated from his wife. In 1938, leaving Paris, they settled in Saint Martin d'Ardèche in southern France. The new couple collaborated and supported each other's artistic development. It has been noted that these two artists collaborated and created sculptures of guardian animals (Ernst created his birds and Carrington created a plaster horse head) to decorate their home in Saint Martin d'Ardèche. In 1939, Carrington painted a portrait of Max Ernst, as a tribute to their relationship.[6]

With the outbreak of World War II, Ernst was arrested by the French authorities for being a "hostile alien" (being German). With the intercession of Paul Éluard, and other friends, including the American journalist Varian Fry, he was discharged a few weeks later. Soon after the Nazi invaded France, Ernst was arrested again, this time by the Gestapo because of the type of art he created was considered decadent by the Nazis. He managed to escape and leaving Carrington behind, fled to America with the help of Peggy Guggenheim, who was a sponsor of the arts.[11]

After Ernst's arrest, Carrington was devastated and fled to Spain. Paralyzing anxiety and growing delusions culminated in a final breakdown at the British Embassy in Madrid. Her parents intervened and had her institutionalized. She was given "convulsive therapy" with cardiazol, a powerful anxiogenic drug that was eventually banned by some authorities, for instance U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In addition to Cardiazol, she was also given Barbiturate Luminal.[12]

After being released into the care of a nurse who took her to Lisbon, Carrington ran away and sought refuge in the Mexican Embassy. Meanwhile, Ernst had been extricated from Europe with the help of Peggy Guggenheim, whom he married in 1941. That marriage ended a few years later. Ernst and Carrington had experienced so much misery that they were unable to reconnect. Three years after being released from the asylum and with the encouragement of André Breton,[13] Carrington wrote down the events of her psychotic experience in her novel Down Below.[14] She also looked to creating art to depict her experience as can be seen in her Portrait of Dr. Morales and Map of Down Below.[14]

Mexico[edit]

Following the escape to Lisbon, Carrington arranged passage out of Europe with Renato Leduc, a Mexican Ambassador. Leduc was a friend of Pablo Picasso, and agreed to marry Carrington just for the travel arrangements. Events from that period would inform her work, perhaps forever. She lived and worked in Mexico after spending part of the 1960s in New York City.[4] While in Mexico, she was asked to create a mural which she named El Mundo Magico de los Mayas,[15] in 1963. It was influenced by folk stories from the region she lived in.[16] The mural is located in the Museo Nacional de Antropología.

"I didn't have time to be anyone's muse... I was too busy rebelling against my family and learning to be an artist." --Leonora Carrington, 1983[17]

Second marriage and children[edit]

She later married Imre Weisz (also known as Emerico, or by the nickname "Cziki"), a photographer and the darkroom manager for Robert Capa during the Spanish Civil War. They had two sons: Gabriel, an intellectual and a poet, and Pablo, a doctor and Surrealist artist.[18]

Death[edit]

Leonora Carrington died at age 94, in a hospital in Mexico City (25 May 2011) due to complications from pneumonia.[19]

Other[edit]

The first important exhibition of her work appeared in 1947, at the Pierre Matisse Gallery in New York City. Carrington was invited to show her work in an international exhibition of Surrealism, where she was the only female English professional painter. She became a celebrity almost overnight. In Mexico, she authored and successfully published several books.[20]

The first major exhibition of her work in UK for twenty years, took place at Chichester's Pallant House Gallery, West Sussex, from 17 June to 12 September 2010, as part of a season of major international exhibitions called Surreal Friends. These were taken place celebrating women's role in Surrealist movement. Her work was exhibited alongside pieces by her close friends; the Spanish painter Remedios Varo (1908–1963) and the Hungarian photographer Kati Horna (1912–2000).

In 2013 Carrington was the subject of a major retrospective at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin. Titled The Celtic Surrealist it was curated by Sean Kissane and looked at Carrington's Irish background to illuminate many cultural, political and mythological themes present in her work.

In Carrington's artwork, one can see her depiction of horses within her Self-Portrait (Inn of the Dawn Horse) or within her painting The Horses of Lord Candlestick.[6] During her childhood, Carrington's fascination with drawing horses was even prevalent.[6] She incorporated the use of horses in her writings as well. Within her first published short story, The House of Fear, Carrington places the horse in the role of a psychic guide to a young heroine.[21] In 1935, Carrington's first essay Jezzamathatics or Introduction to the Wonderful Process of Painting was published before The Seventh Horse.[6] In addition to her enjoyment of depicting horses and writing, Carrington also commonly used codes of words to dictate interpretation in her artwork. "Candlestick" is a code that she commonly used to represent her family, and the word "lord," for her father.[6]

In 2005, Christie's auctioned Carrington's "Juggler",[22] and the realized price was US$713,000, setting a new record for the highest price paid at auction for a living surrealist painter. Carrington painted portraits of the telenovela actor Enrique Álvarez Félix,[23][24] son of actress María Félix, a friend of Carrington's first husband.

Books[edit]

By Carrington
  • La Maison de la Peur (1938) - with illustrations by Max Ernst
  • Une chemise de nuit de flanelle (1951)
  • El Mundo Mágico de Los Mayas (Museo Nacional de Antropología, 1964) - illustrated by Leonora Carrington
  • The Oval Lady: Surreal Stories (Capra Press, 1975)[25]
  • The Hearing Trumpet (Routledge, 1976)[26]
  • The Stone Door (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1977)[27]
  • The Seventh Horse and Other Tales (Dutton, 1988)[28]
  • The House of Fear (Trans. K. Talbot and M. Warner. New York: E. P. Dutton, 1988)[29]
  • Down Below (Dutton, 1988)[29]
Featuring Carrington

Artwork[edit]

By Carrington
  • Leonora Carrington, Self-Portrait (Inn of the Dawn Horse), 1936-1937, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Pierre and Maria-Gaetana Matisse Collection.
  • Leonora Carrington, Portrait of Max Ernst, 1939, Private Collection.
  • Leonora Carrington, The Horses of Lord Candlestick, 1938, Private Collection.
  • Leonora Carrington, The Meal of Lord Candlestick, 1938
  • Leonora Carrington, The Inn of the Dawn Horse (Self-Portrait), 1939 (first major Surrealist work) Metropolitan Museum of Art Collection.
  • Leonora Carrington, The Temptation of St. Anthony, 1947, Museo del Prado in Madrid

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Mark Stevenson, Associated Press (26 May 2011). "Surrealist Leonora Carrington dies at 94 in Mexico City". www.seattlepi.com. 
  2. ^ "Leonora Carrington dead at 94". Retrieved 23 April 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c Leo Carrington & Sons website
  4. ^ a b See Carrington's "El Mundo Magico de Los Mayas".
  5. ^ Robinson, Michael. Surrealism (Fulham: Star Fire, 2006), pg. 312.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g Aberth, Susan (2010). Leonora Carrington: Surrealism, Alchemy and Art. Lund Humphries. pp. 11, 20–43, 149. 
  7. ^ a b William Grimes (26 May 2011). "Leonora Carrington Is Dead at 94; Artist and Author of Surrealist Work". The New York Times. 
  8. ^ New Hall School website; retrieved 27 May 2011
  9. ^ Carrington Leonara. "Carrington Leonara bio". Retrieved 14 May 2013. 
  10. ^ Leonora and me (accessed online 4 April 2008)
  11. ^ Max Ernst profile; accessed online 21 July 2007.
  12. ^ Gaensbauer, Deborah. Gaensbauer. p. 275. 
  13. ^ Hertz, Erich. Breton. p. 97. 
  14. ^ a b Gaensbauer, Deborah (1994). "Voyages of Discovery: Leonora Carrington's Magical Prose". Women's Studies 23 (3): 271. doi:10.1080/00497878.1994.9979027. 
  15. ^ Carrington, Leonora (1964). El mundo mágico de los Mayas. Retrieved 25 September 2013. 
  16. ^ Aberth, Susan; Barnet-Sanchez, Holly; Carrington, Leonora (Autumn 1992). "Leonroa Carrington: The Mexican Years, 1943-1985". Art Journal 51 (3): 83–85. doi:10.2307/777352. JSTOR 777352. 
  17. ^ Leonora Carrington's quotes. "quotes". Retrieved 25 September 2013. 
  18. ^ The Transcendence of the Image (Tate online; retrieved 18 November 2008).
  19. ^ "Leonora Carrington's Death". Retrieved 25 September 2013. 
  20. ^ Leonora Carrington: The Mexican Years, 1943-1985 (University of New Mexico Press, 1998).
  21. ^ Chadwick, Whitney (1986). "Leonora Carrington: Evolution of a Feminist Consciousness". Women's Art Journal 7 (1): 38. JSTOR 1358235. 
  22. ^ Christies website entry
  23. ^ Portrait of Enrique Alvarez Félix by Leonora Carrington
  24. ^ Portrait of Enrique dedicated to his mother
  25. ^ Orenstein, Leonora Carrington ; illustrated by Pablo Weisz ; translated [from the Spanish] by Rochelle Holt ; foreword by Gloria (1975). The oval lady, other stories : six surreal stories. Santa Barbara: Capra Press. ISBN 978-0884960362. 
  26. ^ Weisz-Carrington, Leonora Carrington ; ill. by Pablo (1976). The hearing trumpet. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. ISBN 978-0-7100-8637-2. 
  27. ^ Carrington, Leonora (1977). The stone door. New York: St. Martin's Press. ISBN 978-0312762100. 
  28. ^ Kerrigan, Leonara Carrington ; translations by Kathrine Talbot & Anthony (1988). The seventh horse, and other tales (1st ed.). New York: E.P. Dutton. ISBN 0525483845. 
  29. ^ a b Talbot, Leonora Carrington ; introduction by Marina Warner ; translations by Kathrine; Warner, Marina (1988). The house of fear : notes from Down below (1st ed.). New York: E.P. Dutton. ISBN 0525246487. 
  30. ^ The Spiritual Journey of Alejandro Jodorowsky : The Creator of el Topo. Park Street Press. 2008. ISBN 9781283215367. 
  31. ^ Poniatowska, Elena. Leonora (1a ed. impresa en México. ed.). México, D.F.: Seix Barral. ISBN 978-6070706325. 
  32. ^ Kissane, Sean. Leonora Carrington The Celtic Surrealist. New York: DAP. ISBN 9781938922206. 

References[edit]

External links[edit]