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Leonora Carrington

British / Mexican  •  1917-2011

Biography

At the core of Leonora Carrington's Surrealist oeuvre is a preoccupation with gender and feminist issues. Born to a wealthy family in Lancashire, England, Carrington demonstrated an interest in art at a young age and enrolled at Chelsea School of Art in London. Carrington first became interested in Surrealism after having attended the 1939 International Surrealist Exhibition, and later entered into a relationship with German Surrealist painter Max Ernst.

Like many European intellectuals and artists, Carrington fled war-torn Europe and settled in Mexico where she was greatly influenced by the cultural and religious syncretism. Carrington's unique Surrealist aesthetic is one that often features females as the central figure and includes fairytale-like imagery.

Insights

  • In 2005, Carrington's Juggler (El Juglar) was sold at auction for $713,000, setting a new record for the highest price paid at auction for a living surrealist painter.

  • Carrington was the subject of a major retrospective exhibition, 'The Celtic Surrealist', held at the Irish Museum of Modern Art in 2013.

  • Recent analysis of Carrington's work is often centered around feminist theory. Her visual language of magic, folklore and autobiography finds echoes in other artists' portrayals of female identity and physicality, like that of Louise Bourgeois and Kiki Smith.

"I never had time to be anyone's muse...I was too busy rebelling against my family and learning to be an artist."

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