Legendary Leonora Carrington Passes
Surrealist Leonora Carrington, 94, passed away last Wednesday in her home in Mexico City. The cause of her death was pneumonia. Carrington was known for dreamscape images inspired by folklore, religious ritual and occult symbolism.
Leonora Carrington is perhaps one of the lesser recognized Surrealists in popular culture, when juxtaposed to her male counterparts. She was the one-time partner of Max Ernst. She was acquainted with the likes of André Breton, Man Ray, Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali. Articles regarding her death mention her as “one of the last living links” to these men.
The artist did credit Ernst with her art education, after they ran off of as paramours to Paris. “From Max I had my education. I learned about art and literature. He taught me everything,” she told The Guardian in London in 2007. Though the artist credited Ernst and several contemporary art critics mention Carrington as a “link,” she is truly a leading figure in Surrealist art, and one of the last great Modern Mexican artists.
Born in Lancashire, Britain, her Irish nanny told her tales from Celtic folklore. Her father was against his daughter becoming an artist, but her mother was supportive, even gifting the budding artist with a volume of Hubert Read’s book on Surrealism. She eventually attended the Chelsea School of Art, then joined the London academy of the Cubist Amedee Ozenfant.
Ernst left his wife in 1938, and the outbreak of World War II saw him imprisoned and his wife institutionalized after a minor breakdown. Carrington eventually recovered and left for New York, showing at the Pierre Matisse Gallery, and making a general success for herself. She relocated to Mexico, where her knowledge and the execution of folklore and occult symbolism inside her work deepened. Her most common symbols are animal in nature–deer, hyenas, a white horse, among others.
In Mexico she wed a Hungarian photographer, Emeric Weisz. Together they had two sons, Gabriel Weisz-Carrington and Pablo Weisz-Carrington. She is survived by her two sons and five grandchildren.
Does Carrington’s story seem dreary? She was a talented and multimedia artist that painted cloaked figures, deer with trees sprouting from her back, and elusive dreamscapes. She sculpted. She wrote stories and screenplays. She was a mother and a wife. Her most famous written piece, a 1974 fantastical novel titled The Hearing Trumpet, is an account of a feminist uprising in a women’s retirement home. In 2005, Christie’s auctioned Carrington’s “Juggler” (1954). The final price was $713,000, which set a new record for the highest price paid at auction for a living surrealist painter.
In regards to being anyone’s muse, the artist once said this, “I didn’t have time to be anybody’s muse; I was too busy rebelling against my parents and learning to be an artist.” Leonora Carrington, a legendary Surrealist, leaves a legacy for the contemporaries attempting to trace her steps.