Leonora Carrington - Latin America New York Wednesday, May 24, 2017 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Manuela Amor de Hill, Mexico City
    Galería de Arte Mexicano, Mexico City
    Private Collection, Mexico City

  • Exhibited

    Mexico City, Museo Nacional de Arte, Los surrealistas en México, 1986
    Monterrey, Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Monterrey, Leonora Carrington: una retrospectiva (September 1994 - January 1995); then travelled to Mexico City, Museo de Arte Moderno de México - Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes (1995)
    Tokyo Station Gallery, Leonora Carrington (October 14 - November 12, 1997); then travelled to Umeda Osaka, Dairu Museum (1997-1998); Takayama City, Hika Takayama Museum of Art (1998); Tsu, Mie Prefectural Art Museum (May 1998)
    Bunkamura Museum of Art, Women Surrealists in Mexico (July 19 - September 7, 2003); then travelled to Osaka, Suntory Museum (September 13 - October 19, 2003); Nagoya City, Nagoya City Art Museum (November 1 - December 21, 2003); Kochi, Kochi Museum of Art (January 4 - February 22, 2004)

  • Literature

    Juan García Ponce, Leonora Carrington, Mexico City, 1974, p. 22 (illustrated)
    Whitney Chadwick, Leonora Carrington, La realidad y la imaginación, Mexico City, 1994, no. 23 (illustrated)
    Susan L. Aberth, Leonora Carrington: Surrealism, Alchemy and Art, New York, 2010, p.77 (illustrated)

    This work will be included in the catalogue raisonné of Leonora Carrington's paintings, to be published by Dr. Salomon Grimberg.

  • Catalogue Essay

    “I invite you to take a stroll through the House of Wild Beasts,” coaxes the precocious narrator to the mad queen in Carrington’s short story “The Royal Command” (1939), as she sets a Surrealist scene of leonine assassination. “We went down to the quiet garden,” she recounts, bid by a stern cypress tree to lead her queen toward the fateful lions’ cage. “In the dawn nothing breathed; it was the peaceful hour, all petrified, only light itself existed.” Such fantastical creatures and preternatural phenomena suffuse Carrington’s pictorial world, in which hybrid and anthropomorphic bodies wend through scenes of transformation and mystery. Raised on fairy tales and Celtic lore by her Irish mother, Carrington embraced the myriad enchantments of Mexico—styled the “Surrealist place, par excellence” by André Breton—upon her arrival in 1942, at the age of twenty-five, in the wake of a harrowing escape from war-torn France. The femme-enfant of the Surrealists, with whom she had been associated since 1938, she found emotional asylum in Mexico City as she recovered from the internment of her lover Max Ernst, their separation and her subsequent flight to Spain, and the nervous breakdown that followed.

    Surrealism had preceded Carrington in Mexico, gaining visibility with the International Surrealist Exhibition, organized by Breton in 1940, and continuing to develop in the close-knit émigré community that welcomed her into its fold. She gravitated toward the circle around the poet Benjamin Péret, which included the photographer Kati Horna, the photojournalist Emerico “Chiki” Weisz, whom she married in 1946, and the painter Remedios Varo, a kindred spirit who became her confidante and co-adventurer into the world of the occult. Together, she and Varo explored painting as an alchemical practice, merging Mexico’s ritual traditions and history—the Popol Vuh, pre-Hispanic archaeology, herbs and foodstuffs sourced from local markets—with a host of divinatory arts, from Tarot and astrology to the I Ching and the Cabbala. Carrington returned to the public eye in the late 1940s with a breakthrough solo exhibition at Pierre Matisse Gallery in New York (1948); her acclaimed debut in Mexico followed two years later at Clardecor, a design showroom, and she soon had the instrumental backing of Inés Amor at the Galería de Arte Mexicano, which championed her work for decades to come.

    Carrington made animal studies at the zoo in Tuxtla Gutiérrez, in Chiapas, as she once had in London, and her drawings likely engendered the menagerie of magical beasts that grace the enchanted, twilit garden of Pastoral. From myriad water fowl to a stately giraffe and the spotted hyena that bends the ear of the seated figure, the animals convene amiably around the gossamer-white couple, creating an Arcadian mise-en-scène in the forest clearing. “I think animals have everything—maybe a bit more than we have,” Carrington considered, “but I believe that human beings are animals. I don’t think we make a decision, like animals. We both live the best we can and then we die, and we don’t know anything about what happens after death, maybe nothing. We are in the same situation as animals. Animals sometimes have certain faculties that we don’t normally have, such as a kind of telepathy.” With its hybrid figures and playful animism, Pastoral evokes the allegorical landscapes of the Northern Renaissance, epitomized by the lurid debauchery of Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights (1490-1500). Yet Carrington’s garden party spurns moralizing satire in favor of a more serendipitous congregation, graced by celestial bodies hovering in the treetops and an ethereal figure, part bird and part woman, flying through the air. “In everybody,” Carrington mused, “there is an inner bestiary.”

    Abigail McEwen, PhD

  • Artist Biography

    Leonora Carrington

    British / Mexican • 1917 - 2011

    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.

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signed "Leonora Carrington" lower left
oil on canvas
21 x 29 in. (53.3 x 73.7 cm)
Painted in 1950.

$500,000 - 700,000 

Sold for $346,000

Contact Specialist
Kaeli Deane
Head of Sale, Latin American Art
New York
+1 212 940 1352

Latin America

New York Auction 24 May 2017