Leonora Carrington: Surrealism

Leonora Carrington’s surrealistic paintings discover the darkly mysterious dream world of Freudian symbolism and Celtic mythology. She has developed her own unique style being one of the members of Surrealist movement and was celebrated as one of the biggest British artists in Mexico where she lived after the Second World War.


Her life is as strange and surrealistic as her art. Being eccentric and impulsive by nature, she was rebellious in her childhood and was expelled from the Catholic school for misbehaviour and eventually abandoned her rich English family with no intention of ever going back. As 20 year old she has fallen in love with married 46 year old artist Max Ernst and made a resolution to move to Paris with him and become an artist despite her father threatening to leave her penniless.


She was introduced to the Surrealist scene in 1936 when she was immediately spotted by Andre Breton who was fascinated by her style and her interest in fairy tales and the occult. Her stories were published in Surrealists’ publications, and her paintings displayed in their exhibitions.

In the Second World War Carrington managed to flee the Nazis, while her husband was imprisoned in a concentration camp. She went to Spain and was placed in an insane asylum from which she eventually managed to run away and make her way to Portugal and then Mexico where she finally settled. She made friends with the Nobel laureate Octavio Paz, Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, Luis Bunuel and many other artists. While being understated as an artist in Britain, she was adored in Mexico, where she lived for about 70 years and received many national honors.


She was a very fruitful and multitalented artist who wrote magazine and newspaper articles, novels, essays and poems and made thousands of paintings, sculptures, collages and tapestries that were exhibited in Mexico City, New York, Los Angeles, London, Paris, Tokyo and many other artistic centers. Even though her paintings are rich in symbolism she detested over-intellectualization of her artwork. She claimed that the interpretation is in the eye of the observer.


Leonora Carrington died aged 94 in 2011 as the last survived surrealist.

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