Thursday, May 26, 2011

Leonora Carrington

Leonora Carrington, surrealist artist, has died at the age of 94 in Mexico

"She was the last great living surrealist," her friend, poet Homero Aridjis said. "She was a living legend."

"She was famed for haunting, dreamlike works focusing on strange ritual-like scenes with birds, cats, unicorn-like creatures and other animals."

She was born in Lancashire, England, in 1917 - her family was in the textile manufacturing industry. She painted, moved to Paris at the age of 20 where she met Surrealist painter Max Ernst as well as other artists - Salvador Dali, Marcel Duchamp, Joan Miro Andre Breton, Picasso and Man Ray. She went to Frida Kahlo's and Diego Rivera's wedding.

Carrington and Ernst were briefly together until he was arrested by the Gestapo in Nazi-occupied France. Peggy Guggenheim took an interest in Ernst and helped him escape to America (Gugenheim and Ernst were married from 42-46) In 1939 Carrington went to Spain, fell into a deep depression - her parents had her committed to a psychiatric hospital after she had a breakdown in Madrid.

She escaped to Lisbon, and was able to leave Europe by marrying poet and journalist Renato Leduc. After settling in Mexico, she married writer-photographer Emerico "Chiki" Weisz in 1946 and had two children.

She first exhibited her surrealist paintings in 1938 in Paris and Amsterdam. In 1947 she exhibited at the Pierre Matisse Gallery in New York City which gained her attention. She also wrote several books.

"She created mythical worlds in which magical beings and animals occupy the main stage, in which cobras merge with goats and blind crows become trees," the National Arts Council wrote. "These were some of the images that sprang from a mind obsessed with portraying a reality that transcends what can be seen."