Leonora Carrington

La novia del viento


Every century has seen the arrival of extraordinary artists. Leonora Carrington was no exception, her work marked the twentieth century and to this day is still listed as one of the greatest exponents of surrealism in the art history. After contributing dozens of years of art to the world, she passed away on May 25, 2011 at the age of 94 in Mexico City.

Born on April 6, 1917 in Lancashier, England, Leonora showed from a very early age an interest and a deep passion for the wonderful world of art. Daughter of the English industrialist Harold Carrington and Maurie Moorhead, she grew up surrounded by the Celtic myths told by her mother, grandmother and her nanny, all of them Irish and with a taste for fabulation. Her father, on the other hand, opposed the fantasy and artistic interests of his daughter.

As daughter of a devout Catholic mother, she was educated in various convents, from which she was expelled for her bad grades and conduct against the policies of the nuns in charge of her. At sixteen she was presented to the Royal Court of Jorge V as debutant of high society. The family expected her to find a suitable husband but her fascination with the fine arts had already awakened in Leonora a distant interest in the strict rules of Victorian society.

Her artistic life began when she was nine years old, stimulated by a gift from her mother; A small box of watercolors. At that age, Leonora already produced wonderful images that would later be known as surrealism.

Her formal introduction to this movement was through the book on surrealism by Herbert Reed. In this one she found for the first time the work of Max Ernst, discovering that there were more people in the world who shared an imagination and art expression very close to hers.

In 1936 and in the company of her mother, she attended a surrealist exhibition that took place in London where she met Max Ernst for the first time. In love with the painter and after being expelled by her father from the family house, Leonora and Ernst moved to St. Martin -d’Ardèche, to the south of France and later o Paris, where she was admitted to the surrealist movement by Andre Breton. When asking Salvador Dalí if he knew any woman painter, he answered: “The only woman painter is Leonora Carrington”.

Her time in St. Martin-d’Ardèche, was described as the happiest years of her life. It was there where she produced her first sculpture; a bust of a horse that decorated the house of Leonora and Max. But when the Second World War arrived, Ernst was arrested. Leonor fled to Spain; there, after a nervous breakdown, she was admitted to a psychiatric hospital in Santander. Later, when passing through Lisbon, she managed to escape.

She went to the Mexican embassy where Renato Leduc, poet and diplomat, married her to facilitate her flight from Europe, the war, and the influence of her father. Thanks to her marriage to Leduc, she was able to escape from Europe and sail to Mexico in one of the last passenger ships that made the dangerous crossing of the Atlantic during the war.

The couple spent a year in New York, where they reunited with other surrealist exiles such as Breton, Duchamp and Perret. In 1942 they arrived in Mexico and soon afterwards they got divorced.

She married the photographer Emerico Weisz “Chiqui”, with whom she built a home and had two children; Gabriel in 1946 and Pablo in 1947. Gabriel currently holds a doctorate in literature from UNAM and is a plastic artist. Pablo, is a doctor and artist in the United States and Mexico.

Most of the plastic work of Leonora Carrington was produced in Mexico between 1942 and 2011 when she died. She lived most of her life in Colonia Roma in the Federal District. She is recognized as the greatest painter that Mexico has had. In 1963 she was commissioned by the Institute of Anthropology to make a mural for the Museum based on themes from the Chiapas Region.

In 1993 she met Dr. Isaac Masri who proposed a project of ten sculptures, subsequently exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in Mexico City. These sculptures were made in the workshop of the master architect Alejandro Velasco. In 2000 she donated the monumental work in El Paseo de la Reforma in Mexico City. She also produced independently several sculptures with the architect Alejandro Velasco and with Maestro José Sacal.

In the opinion of several authorities, the last sculptures she made were of the most illustrious works of Leonora Carrington and are presented in this publication.

– Pablo Weisz Carrington