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This is the first book to survey the life and work of Surrealist artist Leonora Carrington (born 1917). nineteen-year-old debutante, she escaped the stultifying demands of her wealthy English family by running away to Paris with her lover Max Ernst. She was immediately championed by Andre Breton, who responded enthusiastically to her fantastical, dark and satirical writing This is the first book to survey the life and work of Surrealist artist Leonora Carrington (born 1917). nineteen-year-old debutante, she escaped the stultifying demands of her wealthy English family by running away to Paris with her lover Max Ernst. She was immediately championed by Andre Breton, who responded enthusiastically to her fantastical, dark and satirical writing style and her interest in fairy tales and the occult. Her stories were included in Surrealist publications, and her paintings in the Surrealists' exhibitions. ended up in the 1940s as part of the circle of Surrealist European emigres living in Mexico City. Close friends with Luis Bunuel, Benjamin Peret, Octavio Paz and a host of both expatriate Surrealists and Mexican modernists, Carrington was at the centre of Mexican cultural life, while still maintaining her European connections. overview of this intriguing artist's rich body of work. The author considers Carrington's preoccupation with alchemy and the occult, and explores the influence of indigenous Mexican culture and beliefs on her production.


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This is the first book to survey the life and work of Surrealist artist Leonora Carrington (born 1917). nineteen-year-old debutante, she escaped the stultifying demands of her wealthy English family by running away to Paris with her lover Max Ernst. She was immediately championed by Andre Breton, who responded enthusiastically to her fantastical, dark and satirical writing This is the first book to survey the life and work of Surrealist artist Leonora Carrington (born 1917). nineteen-year-old debutante, she escaped the stultifying demands of her wealthy English family by running away to Paris with her lover Max Ernst. She was immediately championed by Andre Breton, who responded enthusiastically to her fantastical, dark and satirical writing style and her interest in fairy tales and the occult. Her stories were included in Surrealist publications, and her paintings in the Surrealists' exhibitions. ended up in the 1940s as part of the circle of Surrealist European emigres living in Mexico City. Close friends with Luis Bunuel, Benjamin Peret, Octavio Paz and a host of both expatriate Surrealists and Mexican modernists, Carrington was at the centre of Mexican cultural life, while still maintaining her European connections. overview of this intriguing artist's rich body of work. The author considers Carrington's preoccupation with alchemy and the occult, and explores the influence of indigenous Mexican culture and beliefs on her production.

30 review for Leonora Carrington: Surrealism, Alchemy and Art

  1. 4 out of 5

    Bionic Jean

    This is always happening to me. I become interested in an artist's work, for one reason or another. Maybe because I've seen an exhibition, or I've watched a TV documentary, or it's just my general reading. I get a book out of the library about them. I fall in love with the reproductions of the paintings - and can't bear to think of returning the book. I sigh, and order a copy of the book from Amazon. Leonora Carrington: Surrealism, Alchemy and Art is a prime example. Leonora Carrington was an im This is always happening to me. I become interested in an artist's work, for one reason or another. Maybe because I've seen an exhibition, or I've watched a TV documentary, or it's just my general reading. I get a book out of the library about them. I fall in love with the reproductions of the paintings - and can't bear to think of returning the book. I sigh, and order a copy of the book from Amazon. Leonora Carrington: Surrealism, Alchemy and Art is a prime example. Leonora Carrington was an important painter of the Surrealist Art movement of the 1930's, but has never been as widely acknowledged as André Breton, Max Ernst, Giorgio de Chirico, René Magritte, Marcel Duchamp or Salvador Dali. The book covers both the artist's life, and also provides an overview of her work, with many colour plates of her paintings and some photographs. This is an attractive oversized Art book, a good one for any completist's collection. It was published in 2004, and Leonora Carrington died a few years later in 2011, having spent most of her life in Mexico. Until recently the artist was far better known in that country than in England, the country of her birth. The book explores the influence of the indigenous Mexican culture and beliefs on her work, as well as considering her preoccupation with alchemy and the occult. It starts by describing her childhood in detail. Leonora Carrington came from a wealthy mill-owning family, and was a notoriously difficult child. She had been expelled from several schools because of her intractable behaviour, and, as with many supremely creative and talented intellectuals, was thought to be "mentally deficient" because she was not interested in learning anything the schools wanted to teach her. The nuns reported that there was something wrong with her because she could write with either hand, or both at the same time, and preferred to write with her left, backwards. (All her life, she continued to paint with both hands, sometimes at the same time.) She was fascinated with the miraculous, and with levitating. This was obviously unacceptable to the nuns. Much of her childhood was therefore spent in her family's imposing stately home, Crookhey Hall, and this cavernous edifice features in her paintings time after time. It later came to represent various psychological states to her; that of a prison, that of parental authority, but perhaps it mostly became a symbol for her troubled, rebellious youth. Many early influences from home fed greatly into her later work. Her father used to read Gothic stories, such as W.W. Jacobs' "The Monkey's Paw" to her, and her mother had - perhaps fanciful - tales to tell of being descended from both Irish and Austrian royalty. The young Leonora was surrounded by tales of ghosts and fairies, later reporting that she saw "visions". She was drawn to both Catholic mysticism, and pagan influences from the area where she lived - an area which had long been associated with witchcraft. Left to herself for much of the time, except when taught by governesses, Leonora was able to dwell on these thoughts. She favoured neither drawing nor writing stories at this time, following both with equal enthusiasm. She seems to have been obsessed with horses, scribbling drawings of them on every available surface. Knowing these and many other details about her early childhood, which this book goes into, means that one may come to her paintings with fresh insight. By 1927 Leonora Carrington had decided that she wanted to study Art, and although her family opposed this, suggesting that instead she breed fox terriers, she was adamant. For a long time they tried to make their daughter fit the mould they had in mind for her, and she was sent to Florence, in her own words, "to a school for aristocratic children that only taught useless activities like how to behave socially, horseback riding and fencing." From 1934-36 she duly became a debutante and was presented at Court. Carrington maintains that she had no interest whatsoever in being entered into the marriage market, or as she put it "sold to the highest bidder", and took a copy of Aldous Huxley's new book, "Eyeless in Gaza" to read instead of fraternising with her potential beaux. But her time in Italy, rather than the school she attended, did feed into her work later. It is possible to see the influences of Uccello, Arcimboldo and Pisanello in her paintings, and her composition, choice of palette and style owes a lot to the Italian masters. From 1935 she attended the Chelsea school of Art, in London, with little financial help from her parents. However, this marks the point at which her artistic style began to emerge. Following advice from a friend of her father's, Serge Chermayeff, she enrolled as the first student in the Ozenfant Academy, a new venture by the two French painters and architects, Ozenfant and Le Corbusier. Ozenfant and Le Corbusier founded the Purism movement, an offshoot of Cubism. Purism intended to rid Cubism of any decorative or fantasy elements, concentrating on pure forms and clean lines, "subdued colour, sharp outlines, underlying grid structure and mechanical still-life subjects." Their strict teaching regime entailed Carrington spending six months drawing an apple in its various stages of disintegration, "the same apple which had become a kind of mummy". This instilled in her both a respect for the chemistry of everything used, and the discipline of work, countering her earlier penchant for dreaming and fantasising. She first became interested in Surrealism as an Art movement around the same time as becoming a reluctant debutante. She saw Max Ernst's paintings along with those of André Breton and Paul Élouard, tribal art and "Art of the Insane", at "The First National Surrealist Exhibition" of 1936. She also read, and was profoundly influenced by, Herbert Read's new book, "Surrealism". A 20 year old Art student, Leonora not only fell in love with the paintings of Max Ernst, but when she happened to meet him at a party in London, in 1937, she fell in love with the man himself. At 46, his marriage was failing, as his wife became more fanatical about Catholicism, and more disapproving of his explorations into Surrealism. Leonora was increasingly disillusioned with what she saw as the stodgy Art world of London. Paris, and Max Ernst, called to her. She made the break and followed him there. This was the final straw for her parents. Her father promptly disowned her with the dramatic words, "My door will never be darkened by your shadow." However, this was not merely a wild act of love on her part, but a calculated move. Leonora Carrington had made a deliberate decision to remove herself from any influence her parents - or English society - could have over her in the future. It was a clear statement of her own autonomy, both in intentions, and in artistic freedom. On her arrival in Paris, she was welcomed by the Surrealists, although she made it plain that she too was a working artist and nobody's "muse". André Breton responded with enthusiasm to her fantastical dark and satirical writing style and her interest in fairies and the occult. Her stories were included in Surrealist publications and her paintings in their exhibitions. Of this period, Carrington has said, "I didn't have time to be anyone's muse ... I was too busy rebelling against my family and learning to be an artist." It certainly appears that her distinctive style began to form at that time. Her "Self-portrait (Inn of the Dawn Horse)" from 1937-8 marks a radical departure from all her earlier works. There are a host of symbols to be found in the painting, many of which recur over and over again in later works, and stylistically it has much in common with the other Surrealists with whom she was associating. The paintings we recognise easily as being by Leonora Carrington are typical of this Surrealist style, with figurative elements, which are often symbolic, set within great expanses of space, thus focussing and directing the eye towards them. In France Leonora Carrington and Max Ernst supported each other's artistic development. They socialised with other Surrealist artists and writers and collaborated on various projects, including a series of animal sculptures. The two created sculptures of guardian animals, such as Ernst's birds and Carrington's plaster horse's head. Carrington's art often depicts horses, as in her paintings "Self-Portrait (Inn of the Dawn Horse)" and "The Horses of Lord Candlestick". This fascination with both drawing and writing about horses began, as we saw, in her childhood. Carrington additionally often used codes of words to dictate interpretation in her artwork. "Candlestick" is a code that she commonly used to represent her family, and the word "Lord" for her father. In 1939, Carrington painted her now-famous portrait of Max Ernst. However World War II was looming. Max Ernst's position in France became increasingly precarious, and eventually he was arrested by the French authorities for being a "hostile alien". With help from influential friends, he was set free a few weeks later. However, his work was then considered to be "degenerate" by the Nazis, and on the outbreak of World War II he was arrested again, this time by the Gestapo. He managed to escape to the United States, leaving Leonora behind, and marrying Peggy Guggenheim, who was a sponsor of the arts. Leonora Carrington was devastated and fled to Spain. She developed severe mental problems, becoming delusional and increasingly anxious until she eventually had a mental breakdown and was arrested by the police at the British Embassy in Madrid. (She had apparently "threatened to murder Hitler and called for the metaphysical liberation of mankind.") Her parents insisted on her being hospitalised, and she was treated with convulsive therapy, an anxiogenic drug (which has since been banned) and barbiturates, whilst they made arrangements for her to be admitted to an institution in South Africa. Her creative output never stopped during this unimaginably difficult period. She wrote short stories, and depicted her psychotic experiences in drawings and paintings. Eventually, she managed to escape the asylum's treatments, with the help of a nurse, who took her to Lisbon. From there she appealed to the Mexican Embassy for refuge. From now on she was to adopt Mexico as her home. Max Ernst's marriage to Peggy Guggenheim had ended a few years later, but he and Leonora Carrington were unable to resume their relationship after all the dramas and separations during World War II. Leonora Carrington began to write more about her psychotic episode, and with encouragement from André Breton she published a novel entitled, "Down Below". She also gave expression to her experiences in the drawings "Portrait of Dr. Morales" and "Map of Down Below". Leonora Carrington remained part of the circle of Surrealist European émigrés living in Mexico City. She was close friends with Luis Buñuel, Benjamin Péret, Octavio Paz, and many other expatriate Surrealists and Mexican modernists. She remarried and had two sons. Her life became less tumultuous, and her creativity expanded to include plays, sculptures and textiles. In 1957 she started to invent her own productions, such as "Penelope", for which she designed sets and costumes, as well as performing as an actress. She continued to live and work in Mexico after spending part of the 1960s in New York. In 1963 she was asked to create a mural which she named "El Mundo Magico de los Mayas" (The Magical World of the Mayas) for the opening of the new "Museo Nacional de Antropología" in Mexico City the following year. A 4.5 metre long mural, it was influenced by folk stories from the area, and is now thought of as a monument to her relationship with the country which she had adopted as her home. It is normally located in the museum for which it was painted, (although at the time of writing it is in an exhibition in England). For the rest of her life, Leonora Carrington was at the centre of Mexican cultural life, whilst still maintaining her European connections. Leonora Carrington's first Surrealist essay from 1935, an odd work entitled "Jezzamathatics or Introduction to the Wonderful Process of Painting", is included at the end of the book, before the bibliography and index. As a tribute to her work, the Surrealist film-maker Luis Buñuel once said that Leonora Carrington's art, "liberates us from the miserable reality of our days". Leonora Carrington was a remarkable and prolific artist, who deserves to be better appreciated. This beautiful book includes a lot of helpful analysis, which serves as a guide to interpreting her cryptic works, which have often been informed by her life experiences and beliefs. "I warn you - I refuse to be an object!" Link here to images of Leonora Carrington's work.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Tara

    This charming book on Surrealist artist and writer Leonora Carrington contained quite a bit of fascinating material: a biography, some (rather haphazard) analysis of her work, a fairly detailed look at her various influences, and, most importantly, reproductions of many of her brilliant paintings and other works of art. The biographical material was informative and yet still fairly succinct, and included details about her childhood, schooling, relationship with Max Ernst, time spent in a Spanish This charming book on Surrealist artist and writer Leonora Carrington contained quite a bit of fascinating material: a biography, some (rather haphazard) analysis of her work, a fairly detailed look at her various influences, and, most importantly, reproductions of many of her brilliant paintings and other works of art. The biographical material was informative and yet still fairly succinct, and included details about her childhood, schooling, relationship with Max Ernst, time spent in a Spanish mental hospital during WWII, and years as an émigré in Mexico. The (thankfully) limited analysis of some of her art was, frankly, the only thing I could have done without, as I agree with her own declaration that her “work should speak for itself.” But then again, I don’t know much about art, so I’m not really the target audience for such content anyway. In any case, what really impressed me was the wealth of high quality reproductions of her strange, arresting, unforgettable paintings. The prints were rich, vivid, and gorgeous, the subject matter often delightfully uncanny and intriguingly bizarre. I’ve included a few of my favorites below: Self Portrait in Orthopedic Black Tie: The Bath of Rabbi Lowe: Syssigy: The Ancestor:

  3. 4 out of 5

    Terri

    “People under seventy and over seven are very unreliable if they are not cats.” Leonora Carrington had a strange but extraordinary life. The late English surrealist painter and sculptor is regarded as a national treasure in Mexico and she lived in her own fantastic universe. She was also a writer who wrote witty and magical books. Lenora was one of the last surviving participants in the Surrealist movement in the 1930's. Her fantasy paintings are filled with half-animal, half-human creatures with “People under seventy and over seven are very unreliable if they are not cats.” Leonora Carrington had a strange but extraordinary life. The late English surrealist painter and sculptor is regarded as a national treasure in Mexico and she lived in her own fantastic universe. She was also a writer who wrote witty and magical books. Lenora was one of the last surviving participants in the Surrealist movement in the 1930's. Her fantasy paintings are filled with half-animal, half-human creatures with benign soft faces. The wonderful photographs and illustrations of the book “Leonora Carrington: Surrealism, Alchemy and Art” written by Susan Alberth are of very good quality. While her paintings in the book incorporated elements of Mexican culture –a Day of the Dead altar, she also painted her childhood. Leonara had an interest in animals, myth, and symbolism and her interest grew stronger after she moved to Mexico and started a relationship with the émigré Spanish artist  Remedios Varo. She studied alchemy, the kabbalah and the Mayan writings. She always felt that Mexico was haunted with spirits. It was marvelous at times and horrifying at times. Ancient Mexican civilizations and the Celtic culture that she learned about from her mother started to blend in her mind. Mexico became a refuge for her. “Do you think anyone escapes their childhood? I don't think we do” wrote Leonora Carrington. She was brought up in England, the only daughter of a wealthy mill owner and his Irish wife. She was a solitary, unhappy child who would rather draw than do her school work and she never felt she fit in with her family. Her father was a dominating man who was a self-made industrialist and he had high expectations for his daughter.When she was kicked out of two private Catholic schools, her Victorian parents did not know what to do with her, but Leonora wanted to be a artist and study in London. After a disastrous Debutante Ball, that her father forced her to attend, she finally moved to London where she studied art and met Surrealist artist Max Ernst. He was married and twice her age but she was smitten with him. Leonora told her father that she was going to leave England and move to Paris to paint and live with Ernst. Her father blew up and told her if she left that she would be never welcomed in his home again. Leonora did go to Paris and she never spoke or saw her father again. Once in Paris, Leonora thrived and met some of the great surrealist artists of the day. She refused to be anyone's muse and she started to paint. She and Max Ernst left Paris for the south of France countryside and there she painted her famous self-portrait in 1937. Later she told her family that it was the happiest time of her life. Then World War ll came and Ernst was arrested, first by the French for being German, then later by the Gestapo for his degenerate art. Leonora fell apart and her worried father sent her Irish nanny by submarine to get her out of France. They both escaped to Spain just days ahead of the Nazis and once there, her father decided to put Leonora in the mental hospital against her will. This was the darkest period of her life and she never recovered or forgave her father. They gave her forced treatments including drug-induced epileptic shocks. Once she got out, she refused to go back to England and instead married a Mexican diplomat who took her to Mexico City. She would spend most of her adult life in Mexico despite the fact that her marriage didn't work out. She later married Emerico Weisz (nickname "Chiki"), born in Hungary 1911, a photographer and the darkroom manager for Robert Capra during the Spanish Civil war. They had two sons together. A few of her paintings do reflect a deep sadness and suffering from her time in a mental institution. Her sons said that she inhabited her paintings and they became an extension of her life. Some of my favorite Carrington paintings that were discussed in the book: “The Dawn Horse.” Self Portrait. 1937/1938; “The Love that Moves the Sun and Other Stars” 1947; “Darvault” 1950 and “The Giantess” 1950. Five Stars. This book is perfect for art lovers of surrealism.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Cynda

    I see I have begun a journey. I still have much much to learn before feeling comfortable with Carrington's art. While I know that the point of surrealism to encourage discomfort as as the audience reaches for new understanding, I am so clueless that I felt as though to I were grasping at understanding reather than for understanding. What I found most particularly helpful to understanding the artwork: 1. Reading Carrington's short stories that seem to companion/expand some paintings. The stories in I see I have begun a journey. I still have much much to learn before feeling comfortable with Carrington's art. While I know that the point of surrealism to encourage discomfort as as the audience reaches for new understanding, I am so clueless that I felt as though to I were grasping at understanding reather than for understanding. What I found most particularly helpful to understanding the artwork: 1. Reading Carrington's short stories that seem to companion/expand some paintings. The stories inform the paintings. If I want to continue to gain an understanding of Carrington's work, I will have to eventually buy more of her short stories. 2. Familiarizing myself with more imagery would help. I could start by reading books like Myths and Legends of Ireland (various writers have compiled books with this title). Books by this title are more popular, accessible, and serviceable. If I ever wanted to delve more into Carrington's work, I could read a book that influenced Carrington: The White Goddess: A Historical Grammar of Poetic Myth. What will happen now that I have read this book? I will have a deeper understanding of Carrington's short stories, have a stronger desire to learn a smattering of Celtic/Irish folklore, myths, and legends, and to reurn to Frieda Kahlo with perhaps a deeper understanding.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Chris Browning

    Two of my current projects deal with houses, in a way, and particularly with houses as unsafe and mysterious places, riddled with mysteries and strange happenings behind locked doors. In essence, I’m trying to replicate something of the experience of seeing Carrington’s images in prose without leaning too heavily on her own writing: and the illustrated project tries to capture something of her magic without copying it. Which, I assure you, is really sodding hard especially when you’re being insp Two of my current projects deal with houses, in a way, and particularly with houses as unsafe and mysterious places, riddled with mysteries and strange happenings behind locked doors. In essence, I’m trying to replicate something of the experience of seeing Carrington’s images in prose without leaning too heavily on her own writing: and the illustrated project tries to capture something of her magic without copying it. Which, I assure you, is really sodding hard especially when you’re being inspired by almost literally the best Ardath’s writing occasionally falls into overheated academic nonsense, but it becomes more and more apparent as you read on that this is because Carrington’s art is hard to explain or do justice to in simple terms. Ardath is incredibly astute and has some really fascinating insights into images I know very well and it feels like the best kind of art criticism - knowledgeable, witty, thoughtful, intelligent and very enthusiastic. Although Carrington’s art can seem forbiddingly obtuse and tricky to connect with at first, Ardath manages to locate a universality in it for everyone to see how extraordinary this artist and writer really was. A glorious book

  6. 4 out of 5

    tENTATIVELY, cONVENIENCE

    Even if the text for this by Susan Aberth had been shit (it wasn't) I'd still love this bk just for the repros of the paintings. I wdn't exactly call the writing 'inspired' but I'd give the author credit for certainly revealing plenty about Carrington. I was particularly delighted to learn that Alexandro Jodorowsky (of "El Topo" etc fame) staged Carrington's 1957 play "Penelope" in Mexico City. I'd like to read a whole bk just about that - the one foto's very enticing. Was there music for it? If Even if the text for this by Susan Aberth had been shit (it wasn't) I'd still love this bk just for the repros of the paintings. I wdn't exactly call the writing 'inspired' but I'd give the author credit for certainly revealing plenty about Carrington. I was particularly delighted to learn that Alexandro Jodorowsky (of "El Topo" etc fame) staged Carrington's 1957 play "Penelope" in Mexico City. I'd like to read a whole bk just about that - the one foto's very enticing. Was there music for it? If so, by whom? If Conlon Nancarrow did it (unlikely I suppose) that wd be enuf to push me over the edge. It looks like something that shd be restaged w/ music by Liz Downing. ANYWAY, the paintings: overflowing w/ animism, humor, esoteric symbolism - about the latter: I don't even necessarily care about what it MEANS, it still resonates w/ MEANING.. no matter what. The paintings are utterly convincing that there's life behind life on top of life in parallel dimensions to life in death, in, in.. IN other words, the work strikes me as truly visionary: the product of a seer, of a mind so open that it SEES even the invisible w/ intense accuracy. Some of them, "Chiki, ton pays" eg, are so detailed & finely wrought that they easily rival their precursors amongst the alchemical illustrations in the magnificent Taschen "Alchemy & Mysticism". Many of the works are in private collections. If I had one of Carrington's paintings in my home I'm not sure I cd bear it. It'd be almost impossible to not look at constantly, it's presence wd be so powerful that it might burn me out like a surge in an unprepared circuit. Looking at a Carrington painting, even in reproduction, is like finding what you didn't even know you were looking for during an acid trip.. & then being unable to absorb its lesson. Nonetheless, even having the experience at all is enuf to make a profound impression. But, then, do you ever wonder? WHY?! I mean the odd spirit intensely channels so many potentials in life, crosses astounding borders & abysses, creates such wonders as these paintings.. & THEN? dies. But then I wrote earlier "there's life behind life on top of life in parallel dimensions to life in death". I can only hope that Carrington manages to burn so bright in many ways & shape-shiftings unto & beyond 'til death do us part. A (wo)men.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Amari

    Part biography and part catalog, this book is quite a find. Carrington is a major imaginative force in both visual art and literature, and she deserves to be far more widely read. This text (Aberth's, not Carrington's) could have done with another round of editing; however, the reproductions of Carrington's artworks are impressively sharp and the colors practically shimmer. The offering of a detailed personal history of the artist contributes hugely to one's ability to interpret these complex an Part biography and part catalog, this book is quite a find. Carrington is a major imaginative force in both visual art and literature, and she deserves to be far more widely read. This text (Aberth's, not Carrington's) could have done with another round of editing; however, the reproductions of Carrington's artworks are impressively sharp and the colors practically shimmer. The offering of a detailed personal history of the artist contributes hugely to one's ability to interpret these complex and often arcane works, as does the analysis offered within the text. Extremely worthwhile. update: Leonora Carrington died yesterday. I had always hoped to meet her in Mexico, but at least I can be happy that I read her book knowing she was alive and taking part in the zany existence of that extraordinary city.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Story

    Excellent overview of Carrington's work and life. Excellent overview of Carrington's work and life.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Callum McLaughlin

    As someone who loves Carrington's artwork and wanted to know more about her as a person, this book was ideal. Alongside high-quality images of many of her pieces, there's a great amount of text detailing Carrington's fascinating life. Getting this extra context whilst marvelling at her work was exactly what I wanted. I'm now all the more excited to try some of her writing, and to continue to explore her art. I would say, the book tells us itself that Carrington was notoriously private, giving few As someone who loves Carrington's artwork and wanted to know more about her as a person, this book was ideal. Alongside high-quality images of many of her pieces, there's a great amount of text detailing Carrington's fascinating life. Getting this extra context whilst marvelling at her work was exactly what I wanted. I'm now all the more excited to try some of her writing, and to continue to explore her art. I would say, the book tells us itself that Carrington was notoriously private, giving few details about her personal life and never wanting to reveal what her art was 'about', so as to preserve an element of mystique and the ability for viewers to form their own meaning (which I really admire). This means that the book does contain a fair amount of conjecture, particularly where the motivation or meaning behind specifically discussed pieces of her work are concerned. In that respect, it's not so much a dot-to-dot style biography and catalogue of work, and more an analysis and discussion, complete therefore with a small but nonetheless present personal touch (the author wrote her dissertation on Carrington, so she's clearly a fan). This isn't necessarily a bad thing (it means there are some interesting opinions and points of thought put forth that add another layer of depth), I just think it's worth knowing where non-fiction is concerned, in case a complete lack of bias is important to you.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Crippled_ships

    It goes without saying that this book deserves 5 stars already for the pictures alone... When it comes to the writing in it, I found it both informative and charming. However, it did not live up to its subtitle (I am thinking of the "Alchemy" part); even though the author mentions Carrington's preoccupation with this theme quite often, the insights brought to light in this department were few. I think Aberth should either have focused solely on the art context, or (to justify the title) have col It goes without saying that this book deserves 5 stars already for the pictures alone... When it comes to the writing in it, I found it both informative and charming. However, it did not live up to its subtitle (I am thinking of the "Alchemy" part); even though the author mentions Carrington's preoccupation with this theme quite often, the insights brought to light in this department were few. I think Aberth should either have focused solely on the art context, or (to justify the title) have collaborated with someone a bit more well versed in esoteric matters. That being said, I thoroughly enjoyed the book, and through following up on some of the other people and books mentioned therein, I made many new and pleasant discoveries. Time well spent, even if I had hoped to learn more about Carrington's alchemical research.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Aimee

    The writing is deeply flawed in places, including the misuse of the word penultimate, and there isn't much biographical information for the last forty years of Carrington's life, but this is an insightful and well-illustrated introduction to her work. The writing is deeply flawed in places, including the misuse of the word penultimate, and there isn't much biographical information for the last forty years of Carrington's life, but this is an insightful and well-illustrated introduction to her work.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen Dixon

    Occasionally I am tempted to cull my to-read list, but then one that's been on it for forever makes it to my currently-reading list and I'm most pleased. So, nearly 10 years on I have now read this book, and I found it fascinating. Not only did I learn about this very interesting artist, but many of her artworks are shown and discussed. Mind you, the artist herself had no patience for all the analysis done about her and her art. Still, I have no solid grounding in all the mythologies and folklor Occasionally I am tempted to cull my to-read list, but then one that's been on it for forever makes it to my currently-reading list and I'm most pleased. So, nearly 10 years on I have now read this book, and I found it fascinating. Not only did I learn about this very interesting artist, but many of her artworks are shown and discussed. Mind you, the artist herself had no patience for all the analysis done about her and her art. Still, I have no solid grounding in all the mythologies and folklore she referenced, and thus found it useful to have such connections written out for me to read.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Anima

    “I didn’t have time to be anyone’s muse… I was too busy rebelling against my family and learning to be an artist.” – Leonora Carrington A book for those who love art and all those who want to learn about the art of imprinting poetry on canvases. Carrington was born on April 6, 1917 in Lancashire, and lived in Mexico City since the early 1940s. She is known as a surrealist artist (surrealism- dreamlike art marked by intense symbolism) whose art has been influenced by medieval alchemy, Celtic litera “I didn’t have time to be anyone’s muse… I was too busy rebelling against my family and learning to be an artist.” – Leonora Carrington A book for those who love art and all those who want to learn about the art of imprinting poetry on canvases. Carrington was born on April 6, 1917 in Lancashire, and lived in Mexico City since the early 1940s. She is known as a surrealist artist (surrealism- dreamlike art marked by intense symbolism) whose art has been influenced by medieval alchemy, Celtic literature, Jungian psychology, Dante’s literary work, myths, Central American folk art, and Renaissance paintings. In 1937 in France, she met Max Ernst, a German painter, who was 26 years her senior. Ernst left his wife and lived with her in the South of France, where he encouraged her to paint and write. Carrington painted Ernst’s portrait in 1940 using two major symbols- bird feathers and a white stallion, to express his rebellious nature: The Giantess, one of her most famous paintings, is an impressive representation of the idea that strength and power ( the gigantic crowned woman surrounded by a circular symbol ) are born, as anything else, from a tiny ‘womb’ (the egg) of all the things yet to exist ( influences from Jungian psychology).

  14. 5 out of 5

    Lithezebra

    I bought this book for the art, of course, but the biography was riveting too. I would love to read a more detailed account of Carrinton’s life in Mexico.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Meg Gee

    One of my favorite painters and people for her feminist reimaginings of intersecting belief systems and folklore. Highly recommend.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Nathalie

    This is the first book exploring the life and work of Surrealist artist Leonora Carrington (born 1917). It's a wonderful study of her painting and sculpture, with big colour prints. In 1936, the teenaged Carrington ran away from England to France with her older lover Max Ernst. Promoted by Andre Breton her stories were included in Surrealist publications, and her paintings in exhibitions. During the Second World War, Ernst was interned and Carrington had a break down. After escaping from an asyl This is the first book exploring the life and work of Surrealist artist Leonora Carrington (born 1917). It's a wonderful study of her painting and sculpture, with big colour prints. In 1936, the teenaged Carrington ran away from England to France with her older lover Max Ernst. Promoted by Andre Breton her stories were included in Surrealist publications, and her paintings in exhibitions. During the Second World War, Ernst was interned and Carrington had a break down. After escaping from an asylum in Spain, where she had been placed by her family, Carrington sought refuge at the Mexican Embassy. Since then she has lived in Mexico City and was friends with Luis Bunuel, expatriate Surrealists and Mexican artists and, particularly Remedios Varo, with whom she explored the occult, Mexican culture and mythology. While Carrington is a huge figure in Mexico, it is a shame that her work is not really known in the UK, and the national galleries have very little of her work on show.

  17. 4 out of 5

    H.

    Beautiful and plentiful reproductions, with informative-enough accompanying text. The latter is without art, however, as unremarkable and shallow as the average undergrad's final paper in a course on women's art. It wasn't terrible writing but, in the end, it would have been preferable to read a stale encyclopedic entry of the same length than to be drowned in all the unsubstantiated assumptions Aberth weakly makes here. Definitely worthwhile for the prints and the simple facts about Carrington' Beautiful and plentiful reproductions, with informative-enough accompanying text. The latter is without art, however, as unremarkable and shallow as the average undergrad's final paper in a course on women's art. It wasn't terrible writing but, in the end, it would have been preferable to read a stale encyclopedic entry of the same length than to be drowned in all the unsubstantiated assumptions Aberth weakly makes here. Definitely worthwhile for the prints and the simple facts about Carrington's life that are rather hard to come by in English language coverage (she's quite popular in Mexico).

  18. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    Very nicely narrated. Great spreads of art and photos.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Pineapple

    Leonora Carrington is one of my favourite artists. Her short stories are also fantastic. The imagination is survival!!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kevin

    An amazing artist and an amazing life.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Sandra

    It is a good book, I like https://i.pinimg.com/originals/58/10/... image: It is a good book, I like https://i.pinimg.com/originals/58/10/... image:

  22. 5 out of 5

    Bob Nichols

    This is a good introduction to Carrington. Carrington displayed her off-beat and independent personality early on, frequently pushing back on her well-to-do family who wanted her to be 'normal.' In art, Carrington found her calling and as a young woman she moved away from her native England to Europe, the U.S. and then to Mexico City. The book is a collection of her paintings, filled with magic, alchemy and the occult. The paintings are involved, with a diverse collection of oddly matched and po This is a good introduction to Carrington. Carrington displayed her off-beat and independent personality early on, frequently pushing back on her well-to-do family who wanted her to be 'normal.' In art, Carrington found her calling and as a young woman she moved away from her native England to Europe, the U.S. and then to Mexico City. The book is a collection of her paintings, filled with magic, alchemy and the occult. The paintings are involved, with a diverse collection of oddly matched and portrayed beings, many of them animal or animal like. Aberth does an excellent job of walking the reader through a few of these paintings so that Carrington's intent becomes clearer. While it is a problem to decipher meaning without knowing much about Carrington's background, each of these paintings, with a few exceptions, has strong appeal. They are rich in detail and color and may touch the viewer in ways separate from what Carrington intended. Aberth writes of one work that it is "a visual manifesto of the artist's belief in the ability of painting to transcend static representation and to enter into the realms of the magical." Even if the meaning of that statement is not entirely clear, it resonates when viewing Carrington's paintings. The book does not cover the sculpture that came later in Carrington's career. In the median between the Anthropological Museum and Chapultepec Park in Mexico City are Carrington sculptures that have their own way of reaching out and grabbing the viewer. It would be nice to see these in an Aberth book. Aberth's footnotes in this book are excellent.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Grady

    Leonora Carrington: Ave Atque Vale Leonora Carrington (1917-2011) may be gone but her influence on the art world is indelible and still continues to grow as time passes. Born in England, she moved to Mexico in 1942 and lived there until she died on May 25. She lived a life as exotic as her paintings and sculptures and writings. Until her death she was known as the greatest living Mexican artist and one of the leading figures in the Surrealism movement. Her career was associated with the greats - Leonora Carrington: Ave Atque Vale Leonora Carrington (1917-2011) may be gone but her influence on the art world is indelible and still continues to grow as time passes. Born in England, she moved to Mexico in 1942 and lived there until she died on May 25. She lived a life as exotic as her paintings and sculptures and writings. Until her death she was known as the greatest living Mexican artist and one of the leading figures in the Surrealism movement. Her career was associated with the greats - Andre Breton, Luis Buñuel, and her lover Max Ernst. She associated with Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo and was long considered an icon in Mexican painting -in the world and in her adopted country. Carrington's art was a strange mixture of 'anthropomorphic whimsy and shadowy darkness'. Fairy tales from the dark side seemed to be her muse and her works are in the major museums of the world. In this very fine book, filled with excellent reproductions of her finest works, author Susan L. Aberth dwells on her preoccupation with alchemy and the occult, explaining how the art and ideas of Leonora Carrington were very much informed by Mexican spiritualism and myths and stories. Among artists and historians Leonora Carrington has been a lighthouse beam, and perhaps after such books as this her name will gradually become a household word throughout the world. She had few peers: she released her own haunting spirit into the world, and left. In her words, 'What death is, I don't know.' Grady Harp

  24. 4 out of 5

    Bibliophile

    I'm not particularly interested in surrealism, but I love Leonora Carrington's paintings. This is a nice catalogue of her works with some biographical facts and a bit of analysis on her art. Colorful life: a staunch feminist, she rejected her British stiff-upper-lip roots, took off to Paris and painted her ass off while banging Max Ernst. After the war there was a stint in a mental institution, before she ended up in Mexico. The book doesn't go deep, but I did enjoy these fun facts about her: he I'm not particularly interested in surrealism, but I love Leonora Carrington's paintings. This is a nice catalogue of her works with some biographical facts and a bit of analysis on her art. Colorful life: a staunch feminist, she rejected her British stiff-upper-lip roots, took off to Paris and painted her ass off while banging Max Ernst. After the war there was a stint in a mental institution, before she ended up in Mexico. The book doesn't go deep, but I did enjoy these fun facts about her: her idea of a practical joke was cutting off her over-night guests' hair in their sleep and putting it into their breakfast omelets. Fun! She liked cooking elaborate food, such as hare stuffed with oysters. Awesome! Here's her mesmerizing self-portrait:

  25. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    I hadn't known of this artist when I began reading the book but quickly gained appreciation for her blending of Alchemy and Celtic imagery in her Hieronymus Bosch-esque paintings. It was interesting to read of her affluent childhood, dealings with Max Ernst and the Surrealists, her institutionalization and subsequent new life in Mexico and how each of these influenced her artwork. There are many many beautiful examples of her artwork -painting and a few sculptures, as well as wonderfully selecte I hadn't known of this artist when I began reading the book but quickly gained appreciation for her blending of Alchemy and Celtic imagery in her Hieronymus Bosch-esque paintings. It was interesting to read of her affluent childhood, dealings with Max Ernst and the Surrealists, her institutionalization and subsequent new life in Mexico and how each of these influenced her artwork. There are many many beautiful examples of her artwork -painting and a few sculptures, as well as wonderfully selected photographs from her childhood, growth among the Surrealists, and her life in Mexico. I don't normally read artist's biographies, but will probably start reading about those artists that I appreciate.

  26. 4 out of 5

    lisa_emily

    I checked out this book because I wanted read some biographical information on Carrington, unfortunately, the majority of the text was based on art interpretation. The reproductions of Carrington's painting are the highlight. I have seen many of Carrington's work, in exhibitions and in other books, I am always surprised by how productive she was, even up to her last years, there is a painting that was dated 2002. I checked out this book because I wanted read some biographical information on Carrington, unfortunately, the majority of the text was based on art interpretation. The reproductions of Carrington's painting are the highlight. I have seen many of Carrington's work, in exhibitions and in other books, I am always surprised by how productive she was, even up to her last years, there is a painting that was dated 2002.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Meghann Nicholls

    I Love Leonara and Varro!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Catherine

    By my favorite Bard professor!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Sebastien

    Beautiful color plates. Haven't read the text, but the selection of Carrington work in this book is excellent. Carrington's vision has grown on me, she's now one of my favorite artists! Beautiful color plates. Haven't read the text, but the selection of Carrington work in this book is excellent. Carrington's vision has grown on me, she's now one of my favorite artists!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Tristy

    Fantastic! Love Carrington and her work.

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