1917 2011

Leonora Carrington (1917-2011) was an English-born Mexican painter and author, and an important representative of the Surrealist movement in the country. She was also very active in the women’s liberation movement during the 1970s.

She lived in multiple countries throughout her life, including France, Spain, and the United States, but Mexico was the one she loved the most and where she spent a considerable amount of time. Her paintings are inspired by magical realism and symbolism, and female sexuality was an important theme. Her 1973 work Mujeres Conciencia was a powerful symbol of the women’s movement in Mexico.


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 also a founding member of the Women’s Liberation Movement in Mexico during the 1970s

Following the escape to Lisbon, Carrington arranged passage out of Europe with Renato Leduc, a Mexican Ambassador. Leduc was a friend of Pablo Picasso, and agreed to marry Carrington just for the travel arrangements.

Events from this period continued to inform her work. She lived and worked in Mexico after spending part of the 1960s in New York City.

While in Mexico, she was asked, in 1963, to create a mural which she named El Mundo Magico de los Mayas, and which was influenced by folk stories from the region.

The mural is now located in the Museo Nacional de Antropología in Mexico City.

Carrington designed Mujeres conscienscia (1973), a poster, for the Women’s Liberation movement in Mexico, depicting a ‘new eve’.

Carrington, personally and primarily focused on psychic freedom, understood that such freedom could not be achieved until political freedom is also accomplished.

Through these beliefs, Carrington understood that “greater cooperation and sharing of knowledge between politically active women in Mexico and North America” was important for emancipation.

Carrington’s political commitment led to her winning the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Women’s Caucus for Art convention in New York in 1986.

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 in her studio (1987). Photographed by Kati Horna.

Carrington (1917–2011), through her paintings and sculptures, often explored notions of femininity in the whimsical, dreamlike style of Surrealism. Carrington was born into an upper-class, Irish-Catholic family in England, but struggled to conform to societal standards. She found refuge in art, and in 1936 she enrolled in new art academy founded by painter Amédée Ozenfant in London.