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Born on April 6, 1917, in Clayton Green, England, Leonora Carrington would become one of the most influential artists of the Surrealist movement. Spending most of her life in Mexico City from 1945 until her death on May 25, 2011, Carrington's artistic contributions were vast and spanned various mediums, including painting, sculpture, and writing.
Carrington grew up in a wealthy family and was introduced to the arts at an early age. She studied in England, Italy, and France and was mentored by Amadee Ozenfant at the Ozenfant Academy in 1935. She also attended the Chelsea School of Art in London under the direction of Jean de Botton.
Carrington's entry into the Surrealist movement was marked by her participation in the International Surrealist Exhibition of 1938 in Paris. It was there that she met fellow Surrealists like Max Ernst, Leonor Fini, and Lee Miller. Carrington became Ernst's lover and lived with him in Paris before moving to St. Martin d’Ardeche.
As World War II erupted, Carrington's life was upended when Ernst was detained due to his Jewish heritage. She fled to Spain, where she suffered a nervous breakdown and was institutionalized. Upon her release, she married her friend Renato Leduc in 1941 for political asylum and later moved to Mexico City, where she divorced Leduc and married Emerico "Chiki" Weisz in 1946. They had two children together.
In Mexico, Carrington befriended many prominent artists and intellectuals, including Remedios Varo, Benjamin Peret, Octavio Paz, Diego Rivera, and briefly, Frida Kahlo. She maintained a close friendship and artistic collaboration with Varo. Carrington was also acquainted with other Surrealists in Paris and New York, such as Man Ray, Hans Arp, Alberto Giacometti, and Marcel Duchamp. Carrington's friendship with Leonor Fini was also significant, as they shared similar artistic visions and pushed boundaries within the Surrealist movement.
Before her inclusion in the Exhibition by 31 Women, Carrington participated in several Surrealist exhibitions, including the aforementioned International Surrealist Exhibition of 1938 and the benefit exhibition for French children and prisoners held at Reid Mansion in New York in 1942.
Carrington's key artworks include The Horses of Lord Candlestick (1938) which was included in the Exhibition by 31 Women and Joie de Patinage (1941). She was well-established as an artist by the 1930s, and her work continued to evolve and inspire throughout her life.
Carrington passed away on May 25, 2011, in Mexico City, Mexico, leaving behind a rich legacy of surrealism and an extraordinary life story that intertwined with some of the most notable artists of her time.
Leonora Carrington's life and work continue to captivate and inspire audiences today. As a female artist who defied convention and forged her path in a male-dominated movement, Carrington left an indelible mark on the world of art. Her diverse artistic contributions, relationships with fellow artists, and perseverance in the face of adversity ensure her place in the annals of art history.