“I didn’t have time to be anyone’s muse,” the British artist Leonora Carrington once said. “I was too busy rebelling against my family and learning to be an artist”. And Carrington, who has died aged 94 in New Mexico, went on to become a leading surrealist painter as well as an accomplished novelist.
Born into a family of wealthy industrialists, she was determined to be a painter from a young age after seeing the world of the Surrealists. Her father was against her plan to pursue an artistic life, but her mother quietly encouraged her and by her mid-20’s Leonora Carrington had exhibited work in London and New York, and was mixing in a social circle that includes the likes of Max Ernst and Paul Eluard.
When the Second World War broke out, Leonora Carrington was living in Paris with Ernst, with whom she had a romantic relationship. As the Nazis took control, Ernst was twice arrested and eventually made a dash for the United States, while Carrington fled to Spain. She suffered a nervous breakdown and was institutionalised by her parents. By the time she was reunited with Ernst, they were unable to reconnect emotionally and the relationship died.
Leonora Carrington eventually arranged to leave Europe and live in Mexico, which is where she ended up staying for the rest of her life. She married and had two children, and until her death in 2011 was considered one of the last survivors of the original Surrealist movement. She died in hospital on May 25th 2011 following a bout of pneumonia.