The Museum of Modern Art and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art acquire paintings by Leonora Carrington

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The Museum of Modern Art and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art acquire paintings by Leonora Carrington
Leonora Carrington, The Kitchen Garden on the Eyot, 1946, tempera on wood panel, 11 3/4 x 19 2/3 inches (29.8 x 50 cm).

SAN FRANCISCO, CA.- On the heels of Gallery Wendi Norris’ exhibition, Leonora Carrington: The Story of the Last Egg, the gallery announced two major museums have added seminal paintings by Leonora Carrington to their permanent collections.

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art acquired Leonora Carrington's Kitchen Garden on the Eyot (1946). Painted while Carrington was pregnant with her first son, the composition radically reinterprets fertility’s role and function, glorifying women’s procreative power and fundamental connection to the earth.

The Museum of Modern Art, New York, acquired Green Tea (1942) and And Then We Saw the Daughter of the Minotaur! (1953). Green Tea, the last painting Carrington completed in New York, where she resided briefly after fleeing war-torn Europe and before making Mexico her home, now returns to New York permanently. And Then We Saw the Daughter of the Minotaur! functions as a rare family portrait where Carrington’s husband, represented here as a minotaur, a half-man/half-bull creature of ancient Cretan origin, sits alongside her two sons and a matriarchal Goddess, presumably Carrington herself.

Both museums plan to display the paintings in their permanent collection galleries this year.

Leonora Carrington was born in 1917 in Lancashire, England and passed away in 2011 at age 94 in Mexico City, Mexico. A leading artist of the twentieth century, Carrington incorporated painting, drawing, sculpture, textiles, and writing in her seven-decade career.

Raised in the English upper-class, Leonora Carrington’s early life was privileged, yet her personal freedom was restricted by the conventions of traditional gender roles. Her childhood, however, was imbued with magical stories from Celtic mythology and folklore, told by her Irish mother, grandmother, and nanny. In these fantastic tales of humans, animals, and nature living harmoniously together as joined forces against threats of injustice and violence, she found ideas which would profoundly influence the rest of her life.

Carrington went on to study painting in Florence and London before moving to Paris where she launched her artistic career. Her highly publicized romance with Max Ernst led to a lifelong affiliation with Surrealism, though she never formally joined the movement. Instead, she forged her own visual language based on a philosophy rooted in feminism, ecology, mysticism, and magical realism. When France declared war in 1940, German-born Max Ernst was incarcerated; the young and alone Carrington suffered extreme anxiety and was committed to a Spanish asylum. She escaped Spain in 1941, and passed through New York before arriving in Mexico City in 1942 where she would spend the rest of her life.

Her art was well-received in Mexico, and in 1963 Leonora Carrington received a government commission to create a mural for the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City. In the 1960’s and 1970’s Carrington became a political activist, hosting student meetings at her home and co-founding the Mexican women’s liberation movement in 1972. In 1986, Carrington’s political involvement awarded her the Lifetime Achievement Award at the United Nations Women’s Caucus for Art convention in New York. In 2005, Leonora Carrington received Mexico’s National Prize of Sciences and Arts.

Since Carrington’s death in 2011, her work has been the subject of major museum exhibitions including, Leonora Carrington: Magical Tales at the Museo de Arte Moderno in Mexico City and the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo in Monterrey (2018) accompanied by a 400 page exhibition catalogue; Leonora Carrington: Transgressing Discipline at the Tate Liverpool, United Kingdom (2015); and The Celtic Surrealist at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, Ireland (2014) accompanied by a 200 page exhibition catalogue. Her work has also been featured in seminal museum exhibitions such as In Wonderland: The Surrealist Adventures of Women Artists in Mexico and the United States at Los Angeles County Art Museum, California (2012) and The Colour of My Dreams: The Surrealist Revolution in Art at Vancouver Art Gallery, Canada (2011). In 2020 her artwork will be the subject of a traveling solo exhibition organized by the Fundación Mapfre, Madrid, and included in Fantastic Women at Schirn Kunsthalle in Frankfurt, Germany. In 2021, Carrington’s work will be prominently featured in Surrealism and Magic: From Max Ernst to Leonora Carrington at the The Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice.

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