Surrealist painter Leonora Carrington (born 1917) was nobody’s muse. She and her lover Max Ernst made pictures of each other, she explained. “I didn’t have time to be anyone’s muse,” said Carrington. “I was too busy rebelling against my family and learning to be an artist.” She was friends with Picasso, Dali and the whole gang, many of whom turn up in Encyclopedia of the Exquisite. But her gorgeous, evocative work stands on its own. I think she’s just fantastic.
As a debutante in London she’d been presented to George V, but in 1936 she saw Ernst’s work at London’s first surrealist exhibition. “I fell in love with Max’s paintings before I fell in love with Max.” The couple split for Paris, then for Provence. At the outbreak of the war, however, they were pulled apart. Max panicked and made for the US, with help from Peggy Guggenheim. Carrington ran to Spain, had a nervous breakdown there, and continued to Mexico, after escaping the caretaker’s sent to fetch her by her family.
According to accounts out there on the internet, Carrington is still living in Mexico City. I really want to check out her novels, like The Hearing Trumpet, which is supposed to be as fantastical as her artworks, and her memoir, Down Below.
Looks rather like that Hockney painting of Ossie Clark and Celia Birtwell, doesn’t it?
Ha! In a strange way, I think you’re right!
Thanks for writing in,
Oh I love Leonora! She also features quite prominently in Janet Kaplan’s biography of Remedios Varo (entitled Unexpected Journeys), have you read it? I read it when I was 17 and developed a total girlcrush on both of them! Such inspirations!
The other glorious rebel who springs to mind is Leonor Fini, who lived a fascinating life.
Of course, they are possibly all in your book, which I NEED to buy! So I can stop commenting on all your posts! 😀
That is so interesting. I will have to check out Unexpected Journeys and Leonor Fini. Haven’t heard of either yet, so thanks for the recommendations!
Sadly, I only learned of Leonora once the book was finished. Everything that ended up here on the blog were the could-have-beens. SO much to read, so much to see.
All best wishes,
Leonora Carrington died in Mexico City on Wednesday May 25, 2011, while hospitalized due to complications from pneumonia.
She lived and worked in Mexico City and was married and had two sons.
Thanks so much for your email, and for letting me know about Leonora Carrington. She was a fascinating woman.
All best wishes,
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