Leonora Carrington was a British-Mexican Surrealist artist and a founding member of the women’s liberation movement in Mexico. She was born in 1917 in Lancashire, England and studied at the Chelsea School of Art. She soon established herself as a key figure in the Surrealist movement and up until her death in 2011, exhibited extensively in England, Mexico, and the across the US.
In 1936, she met and began a romantic relationship with the older German painter, Max Ernst, who would have a notable influence on her work. After Ernst was arrested for “degenerate art,” Carrington was hospitalized with a mental breakdown in Madrid. Following her traumatic experience of shock therapy, she retreated to Mexico in 1942 and resumed painting. Carrington was the only woman included in a major retrospective of Surrealism at the Pierre Matisse gallery in New York in 1947, where she became an overnight art world sensation. Over time she also emerged as one of the leading voices in Mexico’s suffrage movement, designing many of its rally pamphlets.
Her dreamlike art, comprised of highly detailed compositions of fantastical creatures and otherworldly settings are based on intensely personal symbolism. However, themes of metamorphosis and magic have given her art an enduring appeal. As said by the artist, in her classic novella, The Hearing Trumpet, “Art making is a magic which makes the hours melt away and even days dissolve into seconds."