National Museum of Women in the Arts
Leonora Carrington
April 06 1917 - May 25 2011
Photograph of Leonora Carrington in her studio in Mexico City, ca. 1950, by Emeric Weisz, courtesy of Paul Weisz-Carrington
Place of Birth:
Clayton Green
British – English, Mexican
Phonetic Spelling:
lee-oh-NOH-rah KAIR-ing-tehn
Work Type/Media:
Painting, Sculpture
Artistic Role(s):
Muralist, Painter, Sculptor
Artist's Biography:
Born into an upper-class, Irish Catholic family in Clayton Green, England in 1917, Leonora Carrington struggled to conform to conventional standards of high society. At age nine, her parents sent her to a convent boarding school where her imaginative spirit was unappreciated, the nuns deeming her unable to be educated. Despite her parents lack of encouragement, Carrington traveled to Italy to study art where she first took lessons at Mrs. Penrose’s Academy. She returned to England where she studied at the Chelsea School of Art and the Amédée Ozenfant Academy.

Carrington was captivated by the originality of the Surrealist movement, and after being introduced to Max Ernst in 1937, went to live with him in Paris soon after he divorced his wife. While critics were still claiming there was no place for women in Surrealist art, Ernst encouraged Carrington to continue working and she exhibited in major Surrealist exhibitions in Paris and Amsterdam. The threat of World War II drew an end to this period of Surrealist dynamism in Europe. Ernst was imprisoned after the French Government ordered the arrest of all German nationals in France. With the help of influential friends, Ernst was released and fled with Carrington to Spain where she, suffering from intense emotional distress, was institutionalized at a psychiatric hospital at her parents’ request. After enduring treatment, Carrington met Mexican diplomat and friend of Picasso, Renato Leduc whom she married to facilitate her flight from Europe.

Carrington went to New York where she was reunited with many expatriate Surrealists. In 1942, she traveled to Mexico where she divorced Leduc. While in Mexico, she continued to frequently interact with other artists including André Breton, Wolfgang Paalen, and Remedios Varo and enjoyed continued artistic success. Critics generally agree that she reached artistic maturity during this time, a period characterized by great prolificacy and development of style. In 1946, Carrington married Hungarian photographer Emeric Weisz with whom she had two sons, Gabriel, now a writer and filmmaker, and Pablo. Carrington still resides in Mexico and is recognized as a notably original Surrealist painter, whose haunting images, informed by her troubling experiences, reflect the creativity of their producer.

Other Occupation(s):
Author, Poet, Writer
Place(s) of Residence:
New York
Place(s) of Activity:
Mexico City
Where Trained/Schools:
Amédée Ozenfant Academy, London, England (1936-1937) Chelsea School of Art, London, England (ca. 1936) Mrs. Penrose's Academy, Florence, Italy (ca. 1930)
Related Visual Artists:
wife of Emeric Weisz mother of Gabriel Weisz mother of Pablo Weisz Carrington partner of Max Ernst friend of Leonor Fini friend of Remedios Varo student and friend of Amédée Ozenfant friend of André Breton friend of Wolfgang Paalen friend of Diego Rivera friend of Frida Kahlo
Fellowships, grants and awards:
Lifetime Achievement Award, Women's Caucus for Art, New York, NY, USA (1986)
Earliest exhibition:
Leonora Carrington, Pierre Matisse Gallery, New York, NY, USA (1948)
NMWA exhibition(s):
Four Centuries of Women's Art: The National Museum of Women in the Arts
The Washington Print Club Thirtieth Anniversary Exhibition: Graphic Legacy
Latin American Women Artists, 1915-1995
Preserving the Past, Securing the Future: Donations of Art, 1987-1997
Artists' Sketchbooks: The Intimate Journeys
Artist retrospective(s):
Leonora Carrington Una Retrospectiva, Museo de Arte Contemporáno de Monterrey, Monterrey, Mexico (1994) Leonora Carrington Paintings, Drawings, and Sculpture: 1940-1990, Serpentine Gallery, London, England (1991) Leonora Carrington A Retrospective Exhibition, Center for Inter-American Relations, New York, NY, USA (1976)
Crookhey Hall
Quería ser pájaro
Samhain Skin
Related Visual Artists
Frida Kahlo