|Birth Day:||April 6, 1917|
|Death Date:||May 25, 2011 (age 94)|
Associated with the surrealist movement of the 1930s, this painter and fiction writer was also one of the forces behind the Mexican Women's Liberation movement of the 1970s. Leonora Carrington's most famous works include the paintings Self-Portrait and The Horses of Lord Candlestick and the novel The Hearing Trumpet.
As per our current Database, Leonora Carrington died on May 25, 2011 (age 94).
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Leonora Carrington received her early artistic training at Mrs. Penrose's Academy of Art in Florence, Italy; the Chelsea School of Art in London, England; and the Ozenfant Academy in London. Leonora Carrington relocated to Mexico in the 1960s.
Educated by governesses, tutors, and nuns, she was expelled from two schools, including New Hall School, Chelmsford, for her rebellious behaviour, until her family sent her to Florence, where she attended Mrs Penrose's Academy of Art. She also, briefly, attended St Mary's convent school in Ascot. In 1927, at the age of ten, she saw her first Surrealist painting in a Left Bank gallery in Paris and later met many Surrealists, including Paul Éluard. Her father opposed her career as an artist, but her mother encouraged her. She returned to England and was presented at Court, but according to her, she brought a copy of Aldous Huxley's Eyeless in Gaza (1936) to read instead. In 1935, she attended the Chelsea School of Art in London for one year, and with the help of her father's friend Serge Chermayeff, she was able to transfer to the Ozenfant Academy of Fine Arts established by the French modernist Amédée Ozenfant in London (1936–38).
Carrington's art often depicts horses, as in her Self-Portrait (Inn of the Dawn Horse) and the painting The Horses of Lord Candlestick. Her fascination with drawing horses began in her childhood. Horses also appear in her writings. In her first published short story, "The House of Fear", Carrington portrays a horse in the role of a psychic guide to a young heroine. In 1935, Carrington's first essay, "Jezzamathatics or Introduction to the Wonderful Process of Painting", was published before her story "The Seventh Horse". Carrington often used codes of words to dictate interpretation in her artwork. "Candlestick" is a code that she commonly used to represent her family, and the word "lord" for her father.
In 1936, Leonora saw the work of the German surrealist Max Ernst at the International Surrealist Exhibition in London and was attracted to the Surrealist artist before she even met him. In 1937, Carrington met Ernst at a party held in London. The artists bonded and returned together to Paris, where Ernst promptly separated from his wife. In 1938, leaving Paris, they settled in Saint Martin d'Ardèche in southern France. The new couple collaborated and supported each other's artistic development. The two artists created sculptures of guardian animals (Ernst created his birds and Carrington created a plaster horse head) to decorate their home in Saint Martin d'Ardèche. In 1939, Carrington painted Portrait of Max Ernst as a capture of some ambivalences in their relationship. The portrait was not her first Surrealist work, though. Before that, between 1937–1938, Leonora painted Self-Portrait, also called The Inn of the Dawn Horse, now exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Sporting white jodhpurs and a wild mane of hair, Carrington is perched on the edge of a chair in this curious, dreamlike scene, her hand outstretched toward a prancing hyena and her back to a tailless rocking horse flying behind her.
After Ernst's arrest, Carrington was devastated and agreed to go to Spain with a friend. She stayed with family friends in Madrid, until her paralyzing anxiety and delusions led to a psychotic break, and she was admitted into an asylum. She was given "convulsive therapy" and was treated with the drugs cardiazol, a powerful anxiolytic drug (eventually banned by some authorities, including the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)), and Luminal, a barbiturate. When her parents found out where she was, they sent a nanny to fetch her and bring her back to Lancashire, but Carrington refused to return to her childhood home. Eventually she found a way to escape, and went to Madrid where she ran into Renato Leduc, a Mexican Ambassador. Leduc was a friend of Pablo Picasso, and agreed to a marriage of convenience with Carrington so that she would be accorded the immunity given to a diplomat's wife. Meanwhile, Ernst had married Peggy Guggenheim in New York in 1941. That marriage ended a few years later. Ernst and Carrington never resumed their relationship.
Leduc spirited Carrington away to Mexico, which she grew to love and where she lived, on and off, for the rest of her life. The pair divorced in 1943. Events from this period continued to inform her work.
She became familiar with Surrealism from a copy of Herbert Read's book, Surrealism (1936), which was given to her by her mother, but she received little encouragement from her family to forge an artistic career. The Surrealist poet and patron Edward James was the champion of her work in Britain; James bought many of her paintings and arranged a show in 1947 for her work at Pierre Matisse's Gallery in New York. Some works are still hanging at James' former family home, currently West Dean College in West Dean, West Sussex.
The first important exhibition of her work appeared in 1947, at the Pierre Matisse Gallery in New York City. Carrington was invited to show her work in an international exhibition of Surrealism, where she was the only female English professional painter. She became a celebrity almost overnight. In Mexico, she authored and successfully published several books.
After spending part of the 1960s in New York City, Carrington lived and worked in Mexico once again. While in Mexico, she was asked, in 1963, to create a mural which she named El Mundo Magico de los Mayas, and which was influenced by folk stories from the region. The mural is now located in the Museo Nacional de Antropología in Mexico City.
Carrington, personally and primarily focused on psychic freedom, understood that such freedom could not be achieved until political freedom is also accomplished. Through these beliefs, Carrington understood that "greater cooperation and sharing of knowledge between politically active women in Mexico and North America" was important for emancipation. Carrington's political commitment led to her winning the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Women's Caucus for Art convention in New York in 1986. Throughout the decade women identified and defined an array of relationships to feminist and mainstream concepts and concerns. Continuing through the decade women continued to question the meaning of existence through form and material.
In 2005, Christie's auctioned Carrington's Juggler (El Juglar), and the realised price was US$713,000, setting a new record for the highest price paid at auction for a living surrealist painter. Carrington painted portraits of the telenovela actor Enrique Álvarez Félix, son of actress María Félix, a friend of Carrington's first husband.
Leonora Carrington died on 25 May 2011, aged 94, in a hospital in Mexico City, as a result of complications arising from pneumonia.
In 2013, Carrington was the subject of a major retrospective at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin. Titled The Celtic Surrealist, it was curated by Sean Kissane and examined Carrington's Irish background to illuminate many cultural, political and mythological themes present in her work.
In 2015, Carrington was honoured through a Google Doodle commemorating her 98th birthday. The Doodle was based on her painting, How Doth the Little Crocodile, drawn in surrealist style. The painting was inspired by a poem in Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, and this painting was eventually turned into Cocodrilo located on Paseo de la Reforma.
Currently, Leonora Carrington is 104 years, 1 months and 5 days old. Leonora Carrington will celebrate 105th birthday on a Wednesday 6th of April 2022.
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