A new biography on the extraordinary life of the late Leonora Carrington, the British artist who made a name for herself in Mexico rather than in her own country, hit the real and virtual shelves last week.
“The Surreal Life of Leonora Carrington” is penned by Joanna Moorhead, a writer for The Guardian newspaper who was related to Carrington on her father’s side.
Although she had heard snippets about her father’s cousin,referred to as “Prim,” growing up, Moorhead had always been led to believe that she was a “black sheep” who had run off to become an artist’s model after failing to net a husband as a debutante. But when she delved further into her relative’s life, Moorhead was astonished to learn that, prior to World War II, Carrington had given up her privileged life in upper-class England and eloped to Paris with her lover, the famous surrealist painter Max Ernst. And while she knew Carrington had become a somewhat successful artist in her adopted country of Mexico, Moorhead did not understand the extent of this fame her until she traveled to Mexico City to meet her mysterious aunt, now in her late eighties.
Over the course of the next five years, Moorhead made multiple trips to Mexico and developed a close relationship with Carrington, piecing together a fascinating life story that went from the heart of the Paris surrealist movement of the 1930s, to a Spanish jail, to asylum in Portugal and eventually to Mexico City, where she settled, created the bulk of her artistic legacy – and extensive writings – and raised a family.