Leonora Carrington

Leonora Carrington


Artist Details

Birth Place
Clayton Green, England
Death Place
Mexico City
Phonetic Spelling
lee-oh-NOH-rah KAIR-ing-tehn
Painting; Sculpture
Places of Residence
Paris; New York City; Mexico City
Amédée Ozenfant Academy, London, England, 1936–37; Chelsea School of Art, London, England, ca. 1936; Mrs. Penrose’s Academy, Florence, Italy, ca. 1930
Retrospective Exhibitions

Leonora Carrington, Tate Liverpool, England, 2015; 

Leonora Carrington: The Celtic Surrealist, Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, 2013–14; 

Leonora Carrington: What She Might Be, Dallas Museum of Art, Texas, 2007–08; 

Leonora Carrington: Una Retrospectiva, Museo de Arte Contemporáno de Monterrey, Monterrey, Mexico, 1994;

Leonora Carrington: A Retrospective Exhibition, Center for Inter-American Relations, New York City, 1976

NMWA Exhibitions

Telling Secrets: Codes, Captions, and Conundrums in Contemporary Art, 2009

Preserving the Past, Securing the Future: Donations of Art, 1987–1997, 1997

Four Centuries of Latin American Women Artists, 1915–1995, 1996

The Washington Print Club Thirtieth Anniversary Exhibition: Graphic Legacy, 1994

Artists’ Sketchbooks: The Intimate Journeys, 1994

Women’s Art: The National Museum of Women in the Arts, 1990

About the Artist

Through her paintings and sculptures, Leonora Carrington often explored notions of femininity in the whimsical, dreamlike style of Surrealism.

Carrington was born into an upper-class, Irish-Catholic family in England, but struggled to conform to societal standards (her father wanted her to be a debutante, for example). She found refuge in art, and in 1936 she enrolled in new art academy founded by painter Amédée Ozenfant in London.

Carrington met Surrealist Max Ernst in London in 1937, and lived with him in southern France after he divorced his wife. Most critics dismissed women Surrealists, but Ernst encouraged Carrington, and she exhibited with the Surrealists internationally.

World War II put an end to Surrealism in Europe. Ernst was temporarily imprisoned at an internment camp, and Carrington fled to Spain. There, she was institutionalized at a psychiatric hospital, suffering from extreme emotional distress. She and Ernst never resumed their relationship. Carrington eventually married Mexican diplomat Renato Leduc to facilitate her flight from Europe.

Following a period in New York, where she was reunited with many expatriate Surrealists, Carrington traveled to Mexico with Leduc. In Mexico, Carrington found a vibrant artistic community, including fellow Surrealist Remedios Varo. She remained in Mexico City for the rest of her life.

Eventually she divorced Leduc and married Hungarian photographer Emeric Weisz, with whom she had two sons. She was honored with her first one-woman exhibition at New York’s Pierre Matisse Gallery in 1948, followed by solo and group shows around the world. Carrington died in 2011, one of the last living links to the Surrealist movement.

National Museum of Women in the Arts