Leonora Carrington Dies at 94

Leonora Carrington working at USF Graphicstudio.

“You may not believe in magic but something very strange is happening at this very moment. Your head has dissolved into thin air and I can see the rhododendrons through your stomach. It’s not that you are dead or anything dramatic like that, it is simply that you are fading away and I can’t even remember your name.”
~ Leonora Carrington / The Hearing Trumpet

It is a day of reflection in the art world, as we learn of the passing of artist Leonora Carrington. She led a long and fascinating life, with an immutable rebellious spirit. Today, the world remembers her life and work.

The New York Times “Leonora Carrington Is Dead at 94; Artist and Author of Surrealist Work” | by William Grimes

Leonora Carrington, a British-born Surrealist and onetime romantic partner of Max Ernst whose paintings depicted women and half-human beasts floating in a dreamscape of images drawn from myth, folklore, religious ritual and the occult, died on Wednesday in Mexico City, where she lived. She was 94.

The cause was pneumonia, Wendi Norris, the co-owner of Frey Norris Contemporary and Modern gallery in San Francisco, said.

Ms. Carrington, one of the last living links to the world of André Breton, Man Ray and Miró, was an art student when she encountered Ernst’s work for the first time at the International Surrealism Exhibition in London in 1936. A year later she met him at a party.

The two fell in love and ran off to Paris, where Ernst, more than 25 years her senior, left his wife and introduced Ms. Carrington to the Surrealist circle. “From Max I had my education,” she told The Guardian of London in 2007. “I learned about art and literature. He taught me everything.”

She became acquainted with the likes of Picasso, Dalí and Tanguy. With her striking looks and adventurous spirit, she seemed like the ideal muse, but the role did not suit. Miró once handed her a few coins and told her to run out and buy him a pack of cigarettes. “I gave it back and said if he wanted cigarettes, he could bloody well get them himself,” she told The Guardian. “I wasn’t daunted by any of them.” Read full story here >>

The Washington Post “Leonora Carrington, artist and surrealist muse, dies at 94” | by Adam Bernstein

She was widely, if belatedly, regarded as one of the most imaginative artists of her generation and one of the last links to the surrealist movement that included Salvador Dali, Joan Miro and Marcel Duchamp. Her paintings fetched hundreds of thousands of dollars at leading auction houses. Read full story here>>

NPR | “Surrealist Leonora Carrington Dies At 94 In Mexico | by the AP

She was the last great living surrealist,” said longtime friend and poet Homero Aridjis. “She was a living legend.”

Friend and promoter Dr. Isaac Masri said she died Wednesday of old age, after being hospitalized. “She had a great life, and a dignified death, as well, without suffering,” he said.

“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, adding, “These were some of the images that sprang from a mind obsessed with portraying a reality that transcends what can be seen.” Read full story>>

Graphicstudio and Leonora Carrington
Leonora Carrington worked with us here at Graphicstudio in the mid-to-late 90s. She was a vibrant woman with a distinguished career as a painter, printmaker, sculptor, novelist, playwright, and short-story writer. She blossomed at the dawn of the Surrealist movement in the 1930s mingling with Picasso and Dali. She was known as a master of contemporary art, and her passing marks the near end of a legacy.

'The Memory Tower' by Leonora Carrington

During her time at Graphicstudio she created the works Beasts: Ox, Flight, Tapir, Beasts: Cave, Snake, and The Memory Tower. Her luminous and finely detailed works describe a fantastic world which seems eeriely familiar. Strange creatures, human, animal and mythological, inhabit landscapes and interior spaces, where they perform rituals of magic, incantation, transformation and regeneration. Carrington constructs scenarios, through painstaking detail, which encourage a suspension of disbelief, a dreamlike state, thus allowing the viewer to enter her vision of the world.

Leonora’s presence will be missed, but her work, and spirit, live on.

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