Friday, April 06, 2018

Arty Farty Friday ~ Leonora Carrington, Feminist & Surrealist

Leonora Carrington OBE (6 April 1917 – 25 May 2011) was an English-born Mexican artist, surrealist painter, and novelist. She lived most of her adult life in Mexico City, and was one of the last surviving participants in the Surrealist movement of the 1930s. Leonora Carrington was a founding member of the Women’s Liberation Movement in Mexico during the 1970s. She was born into a wealthy family, her fathe a successful textile manufacturer, her mother, Maureen (née Moorhead), was Irish.

A good, well-illustrated read on Ms Carrington's life story is at Widewalls website - do go take a look. The piece begins:
Painting is a need, not a choice , said the legendary painter and novelist Leonora Carrington, who managed to completely redefine female symbolism through her own interpretation of surrealism. She was a restless and prolific artist throughout her career – she worked in oil painting, bronze and cast iron sculpture, but also mixed-media pieces that combined wood, glass, and various iron objects. Besides her important role in the history of surrealism, Carrington was also known as a romantic partner of another prominent surrealist, Max Ernst. The two of them shared their dream worlds and symbolic universes through their magnificent artworks. Carrington has also rejected the surrealist ideal of woman as the main source inspiration and she turned to novel realms such as the animal world, the occult, and Celtic mythology.

These two 4 minute videos show a selection of her paintings, the first, from the Tate Gallery in Liverpool, includes some explanation as well as commentary:

For some large-size images of her artwork, take a look at the website linked below. It really is essential to see her paintings in such sizes, to fully appreciate their intricacy and detail; not that it makes them easier for ordinary mortals like us to understand. We can probably ascribe our own meanings to at least some of them.


Born on 6 April 1917 in Clayton-le-Woods, Lancashire, UK. Chart is set for 12 noon - time of birth is unknown. Moon and rising sign positions will not be exactly as shown.

Without a time of birth to indicate rising sign and exact Moon position, we're left with just sketchy indications of personality. This lady, however, could truly have been described as what Sun sign fans love to call "an Aries". Due to her natal Sun, Mercury, Venus and Mars all in Aries, she would have in her nature many of those textbook Aries attributes: initiator, impulsive, confident, courageous, and so on. We've gleaned enough about her from online biographies to realise that she was certainly all of those things and more!

Natal Moon could have been in late Virgo or early Libra - not easy to guess which. I can see arguments for either, but if pressed I'd speculate on Venus-ruled (planet of the arts) Libra, another Cardinal sign, and opposite her Cardinal Aries Sun - bringing a sense of balance to her more exaggerated head-strong Aries instincts.

Jupiter lies in the other Venus-ruled sign, Taurus, and in semi-sextile to her natal Venus. Jupiter represents, among other things, travel, so lying here in what can be an awkward aspect, semi-sextile to Aries Venus, I see this as a calming and more stable influence on her prominent Aries-ness. Jupitarian highlighting could also link to her move to live and work in Mexico.

Uranus! Any surrealist painter is certain to have Uranus and/or Aquarius highlighted natally. Ms Carrington had Uranus in Aquarius, its sign of rulership in modern astrology. Uranus lay at at 22 degrees, and in helpful sextile aspect to Mercury, at 24 degrees of Aries. This lady was always going to gravitate to surrealism in her painting and fiction writing, and/or, in some other lifetime, perhaps to science fiction.

Considering the mystical mythical subject matter of her many paintings and her novels and short stories, mysterious Neptune had be linked into her chart - somehow. Neptune lay at 2 degrees of Leo when she was born; if natal Moon were in early Libra, as suspected, then Neptune would be in helpful sextile to her Moon - that'd work well!


Wisewebwoman said...

She is so fabulous and such a visionary. I love her work and her courage.


Twilight said...

Wisewebwoman~ Yes she was amazing - for her time - and for any time!
I'm tempted to acquire the book about her life and work by Susan Aberth:
"Leonora Carrington: Surrealism, Alchemy and Art", might help in understanding some of those mystical pieces of artwork!