Carrington, Leonora

Carrington, Leonora,

1917–2011, English-born Mexican surrealist painter, novelist, and eccentric, studied art at Ozenfant Academy, London (1935–38). From a wealthy Anglo-Irish family, she traveled widely, and at 20 ran away with surrealist artist Max ErnstErnst, Max
1891–1976, German painter. After World War I, Ernst joined the Dada movement in Paris and then became a founder of surrealism. Apart from the medium of collage, for which he is well known, Ernst developed other devices to express his fantastic vision.
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 to Paris, where she met such other surrealists as Salvador DalíDalí, Salvador
, 1904–89, Spanish painter. At first influenced by futurism, in 1924 Dalí came under the influence of the Italian painter de Chirico and by 1929 he had become a leader of surrealism.
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, Yves TanguyTanguy, Yves
, 1900–1955, French surrealist painter. At first a merchant seaman, he saw a picture by Chirico in 1923 and instantly decided to take up painting. He created vast imaginary dream landscapes, in which float strange, often amorphous, objects and
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, Man RayRay, Man,
1890–1976, American photographer, painter, and sculptor, b. Philadelphia. Along with Marcel Duchamp, Ray was a founder of the Dada movement in New York and Paris. He is celebrated for his later surrealist paintings and photography.
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, and André BretonBreton, André
, 1896–1966, French writer, founder and theorist of the surrealist movement. He studied neuropsychology and was one of the first in France to publicize the work of Freud.
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. She began to create her own surrealist paintings and writings, and was soon included in surrealist shows and anthologies. Her richly colored, dreamlike paintings, often drawn from folk tales, myths, the occult, and religion, frequently feature long, slender women in various states of undress with strange semihuman animals in fantastic landscapes. Typical is the early painting The Inn of the Dawn Horse (Self Portrait) (1937–38, Metropolitan Museum of Art). Later, she also created sculptures, tapestries, and collages. Her novels and stories, part reality, part fantasy, have the same spirit as her artworks; typical are two 1988 collections The House of Fear: Notes from Down Below and The Seventh Horse and Other Tales. After the Nazis interned the Jewish Ernst (he later escaped), she left Europe, first for New York, then Mexico City, where she settled and joined a circle of expatriate surrealists and Mexican modernists; she subsequently included alchemical, Aztec, and Mayan symbols in her work.


See her complete stories (2017); her memoir Down Below (1944, rev. ed. 1988); S. Aberth, Leonora Carrington: Surrealism, Alchemy, and Art (2004).

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