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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 Ernst to Paris, where she met such other surrealists as Salvador Dalí , Yves Tanguy , Man Ray , and André Breton . 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).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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