Leonora Carrington is considered a key figure in Surrealism and one of the most important artists in Mexico. Like other surrealists, Carrington sought a fuller understanding of reality through Celtic mythology, hermeticism, alchemy, Kabbalah, Tibetan Buddhism, and fantasy literature. These influences are reflected in a work that mixes autobiography and fiction, the everyday and the magical.
Born in 1917 in Lancashire, England, Carrington grew up surrounded by Celtic myths told by her mother, grandmother and nanny, all Irish and prone to fabulation. His father, Harold Wilde Carrington, was a businessman who opposed the fantasy and artistic interests of his daughter. After debuting at a dance at the luxurious Ritz hotel in London and being presented to the royal court of Jorge V, the family expected the girl to find a suitable husband. It would not be like that. In London, Carrington met Max Ernst, surrealist painter, and became his partner. In Paris, he joined the group of André Bretón, Salvador Dalí, Joan Miró, Man Ray, Pablo Picasso, Lee Miller and Luis Buñuel. Shortly after, Carrington and Ernst moved to St Martin-d’Ardèche, in southern France, but when World War II arrived, Ernst was arrested and Leonora fled to Spain. She was admitted to a psychiatric hospital in Santander. In this regard, he wrote Memorias de Abajo, a text that portrays his terrifying experiences in the psychiatric hospital. Later, when passing through Lisbon, Carrington managed to escape. He went to the Mexican embassy where he met the poet and diplomat Renato Leduc, who married her so he could flee Europe, the war, and the influence of his father.
The couple spent a year in New York, where Carrington was reunited with the Surrealists. He arrived in Mexico in 1942, and shortly after he divorced Leduc. He lived with several European surrealists who were refugees in Mexico, including Wolfgang Paalen, Alice Rahon, José and Kati Horna, Benjamin Péret and Remedios Varo. He also interacted with Mexican artists and writers, among them Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, Carlos Fuentes, Carlos Monsiváis and Juan Rulfo. In Mexico, Carrington formed a family next to the Hungarian photographer Emri ‘Chiki’ Weisz, with whom he had two sons, Pablo and Gabriel. With the exception of some periods in New York and Chicago, Carrington spent the rest of his life in Mexico. For seventy years he devoted himself to painting, sculpture, engraving, textiles, jewelry, novels and short stories. He produced his play Penelope with Alejandro Jodorowsky, created masks for the theater with Octavio Paz and illustrations for books by Elena Poniatowska. In 1963, he painted El Mundo Magico de los Mayas, a large-scale work for the National Museum of Anthropology and History. In the 1970s, she joined the feminist movement in Mexico and published La Trompetilla Acústica, acclaimed as one of the most visionary novels of the 20th century. She was decorated with the Order of the British Empire in 2000 and the National Arts Prize of the National Institute of Fine Arts in 2005. In her last years, she devoted herself mainly to sculpture. He died at 94 years of age in 2011.