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Art Since 1945

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Leonora Carrington, British, (April 6th, 1917–May 25th, 2011)

Ased Is the Lion No.1 and Ased No. 2, 1966 20th Century
Pencil, ink on paper
10 1/2 x 13 3/4 in. (26.67 x 34.93 cm)

Gift of Louise R. Noun '29

Although born and raised in England, where she developed her surrealist aesthetic, Carrington left Europe during the second world war and spent much of her life in Mexico. She suffered an episode of mental illness prior to her departure, during which she was briefly committed to a sanitarium. Yet, far from debilitating, this experience emboldened her sense of self-determination against the human systems that had failed her — family, which didn’t support her artistic nature; formal education, where she was isolated and bullied; artistic circles, in this case surrealism, which, although stylistically influential, was misogynistic, treating women as muses without agency; and politics, which hindered women’s advancement.

For her, animals were not symbols of the human subconscious. Rather, their matter-of-factness had much to teach us about our inferior exercise of control over our own lives and predicaments. Ultimately, she was a freedom-fighter: “You have to own your soul as far as it’s possible. … To hand it over to some half-assed male — I wouldn’t recommend it.”

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