Friday, March 16, 2012

march is women's history month — leonora carrington

I didn't realize that surrealist painter Leonora Carrington died last year. I had no idea that she had lived so long — she was the ripe old age of 94. Carrington was one of the few women to be welcomed into the very male club that was the Surrealists. Her work always had a quirky, original, and feminine quality.

She apparently tried to live a surreal life as well:
Leonora plunged recklessly into Surrealist Paris life. At one smart party she arrived wearing only a sheet, which she dropped at an opportune moment; she sat at a restaurant table and covered her feet with mustard, and served cold tapioca dyed with squid ink to guests as caviar. Visitors to the rue Jacob might wake up in the morning to a breakfast of omelette full of their own hair which she had cut while they slept.
Self portrait, 1936
Carrington met the much older artist Max Ernst in 1937. It must have been an instant attraction, as Ernst soon separated from his wife and settled with Carrington in France. But after the Nazi occupation of France, Ernst was arrested by the Gestapo. Art patron and fan Peggy Guggenheim helped him escape to America, leaving Carrington behind. She headed for Spain where she had a nervous breakdown. Her parents had her institutionalized where she was treated with cardiazol. Carrington managed to run away to Mexico, where she settled. She and Ernst were not together after that and he married Guggenheim.

Grandmother Moorhead’s Aromatic Kitchen
Crookery Hall, 1987

She apparently also did some writing, which I will have to check out:
A few years later, in a short story called The Debutante, she fantasised about a girl who befriends a female hyena at the zoo and decides to have it take her place at her debutante ball. The debutante assists in preparing a disguise for the animal, becoming a willing accomplice in the murder of her maid, Mary, whose face the hyena wears after eating the rest of her. The hyena reappeared in a 1937 self-portrait, along with two other figures from her short stories — a wild white horse and a white rocking horse.
A very interesting woman and artist.

Quotes from The Telegraph, Leonora Carrington, Obituary, May 26, 2011

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