a woman sitting on a stone staircase

Leonora Carrington: Writer, Painter, Visionary

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September 9, 2023 – January 7, 2024

Leonora Carrington: Writer, Painter, Visionary is an introduction to the remarkable life of Leonora Carrington, a surrealist artist, sculptor and writer. During her lifetime, Carrington produced more than 2,000 paintings and authored several notable written works, earning the Women’s Caucus for Art Lifetime Achievement Award in 1986. The exhibition will highlight Carrington’s written work, time as a painter and personal life.

Celebrated for her mystical, fantastical and often dark work, Carrington (1917-2011) was raised in a strict household in England and expelled from two Catholic schools before attending art school. As a young woman, she found herself surrounded by prominent surrealist figures, including André Breton and Max Ernst—the latter from whom she was inseparable from for several years. During her time with Ernst, she began developing her signature dreamlike style and writing short stories.

Carrington’s remarkable life, marked by adversity, profoundly shaped her artistic endeavors. Born into a wealthy conservative English family, she rebelled early on, finding solace as the lover and partner of Surrealist Max Ernst. WWII ruptured their bond when Ernst was arrested by the French police and later the Gestapo. This separation triggered Carrington’s collapse, propelling her to leave France. In Madrid, another mental breakdown led her to being institutionalized in a Spanish asylum. She orchestrated an escape by a marriage of convenience with Mexican Ambassador Renato Leduc, which facilitated her flight to New York. She eventually settled in Mexico, where she thrived creatively, forming connections with expatriate artists and marrying photographer Emerico “Chiki” Weisz. Most of her work emerged in Mexico, where she resided until her death in 2011 at the age of 94.

Carrington’s most notable writings include “Down Below,” the 1943 memoir of her experiences in the asylum; “The House of Fear,” a collection of fantastical short stories; and her novel “The Hearing Trumpet,” an eco-feminist fairytale. In addition to excerpts from her acclaimed works, the exhibition will include a display of the artist’s books, photographs, digital versions of her paintings and a suite of etchings, which were produced in Tampa, Florida for Graphicstudio – USF Institute for Research in Art, where she worked with The Dalí’s director Hank Hine in 1998.

Curated by The Dalí’s Curator of Education, Peter Tush, Leonora Carrington: Writer, Painter, Visionary is part of the annual series of fall exhibitions focused on writers associated with Surrealism.

This exhibit will be held in the Raymond James Community Room and is free for all guests.