Leonora Carrington: 1917-2011

Palace of the Blue Butterfly | Episode 11

“I am as mysterious to myself as I am mysterious to others.” Leonora Carrington

The great surrealist artist Leonora Carrington died on May 25, 2011 in Mexico City. She was 94. It was weird because my friend Frances in Mexico and I had just been e-mailing each other about Leonora, and Frances was telling me about the time she met her a couple of years ago. I’d mentioned to Frances that I was going to write a bit about Andre Breton and the group of European exiles who, fleeing persecution from the Nazis, came to Mexico in the early forties. They were a remarkable crowd. As Frida Kahlo said, “I didn’t know I was a surrealist until Andre Breton told me I was.” And Breton famously said, “The art of Frida Kahlo is a ribbon around a bomb.”

But there were other amazing women artists in Mexico at that time like Carrington. Her painting below is one of my favorites. In fact, I want to use the cover and the title on (one of) the novels I’m working on now, which is set in Berkeley and San Francisco and involves a group of Jungian analysts. Well, that’s for later. Anyway, this painting is called Theater of Mysteries.

Why was I writing this to Frances? Well, I’m lucky. She’s an incredible photographer like her father George Miller, and she also has an eye for the wonderful images one sees everyday in Mexico, the surreal images one sees everyday in Mexico. She’s generously offered to send me some photographs of some of the places you’re going to visit in my book.

As it turns out, one of those places involves go-ing into the home of an artist who came over from Europe with Breton, and Carring-ton and Re-medios Varo, who is the woman at the easel on the left.

Carrington and Varo shared an intense, lifelong friendship. It was in Remedios that Leonora said she “encountered an intensity of imaginative power that she had found in no one else.”

I found a wonderful little movie about Leonora Carrington that I’m going to embed here on this post.It takes about 15 minutes to watch, but it really gives you the feeling for Leonora Carrington, for the kind of spirit we just lost, and for the artistic — I don’t know what to call it — stew, I suppose, that is life in Mexico:

LEONORA CARRINGTON by Pamela Robertson-Pearce from Neil Astley on Vimeo.

And it will give you a feeling for the next step on Lili’s path.

After that, grab a tequila and follow Lili as she enters this world.


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