Eggs and Horses and Dreams

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By The Paris Review

May 29, 2019

Leonora Carrington’s work unfurls like a dream, both familiar and not. As in her sui generis short stories, mysterious human-animal hybrids populate the fantastical landscapes of her paintings, speaking in riddles, partaking in oblique ceremonies, eating sumptuous feasts. Blending iconography from mystical and religious traditions the world over, Carrington’s work hints at a hidden all-encompassing language of symbols, one that represents the inseparability of the universe and fertility (eggs crop up repeatedly in her work, as do horses—talking and otherwise). After spending years in the shadows of her fellow surrealists, Carrington has finally received her due as one of the twentieth century’s most singular artists: a museum in Mexico devoted to her life and work, reissues of her deliciously odd books, and now “Leonora Carrington: The Story of the Last Egg,” the first solo exhibition of her work to appear in New York in twenty-two years. The show, an off-site presentation by Gallery Wendi Norris, is on view through June 29 at 926 Madison Avenue, New York, NY, where the gallery will also host a symposium on her work and a reading of Carrington’s unpublished play Opus Siniestrus: The Story of the Last Egg. A selection of paintings from the exhibition—as well as two masks that Carrington designed for the play—appears below. 

LEONORA CARRINGTON, GREEN TEA, 1942, OIL ON CANVAS, 24″ X 30″. © 2019 ESTATE OF LEONORA CARRINGTON / ARTISTS RIGHTS SOCIETY (ARS), NEW YORK. COURTESY OF GALLERY WENDI NORRIS.

LEONORA CARRINGTON, GREEN TEA, 1942, OIL ON CANVAS, 24″ X 30″. © 2019 ESTATE OF LEONORA CARRINGTON / ARTISTS RIGHTS SOCIETY (ARS), NEW YORK. COURTESY OF GALLERY WENDI NORRIS.

LEONORA CARRINGTON, ULU’S PANTS, 1952, OIL AND TEMPERA ON PANEL, 21 1/2″ X 36″. SIGNED L.L. “LEONORA CARRINGTON” VERSO: “ULU’S PANTS, LEONORA CARRINGTON” © ESTATE OF LEONORA CARRINGTON / ARTISTS RIGHTS SOCIETY (ARS), NEW YORK. COURTESY OF GALLERY WENDI NORRIS.

LEONORA CARRINGTON, ULU’S PANTS, 1952, OIL AND TEMPERA ON PANEL, 21 1/2″ X 36″. SIGNED L.L. “LEONORA CARRINGTON” VERSO: “ULU’S PANTS, LEONORA CARRINGTON” © ESTATE OF LEONORA CARRINGTON / ARTISTS RIGHTS SOCIETY (ARS), NEW YORK. COURTESY OF GALLERY WENDI NORRIS.

LEONORA CARRINGTON, UNTITLED [PRELIMINARY SKETCHES FOR THE PLAY OPUS SINIESTRUS], 1965, OIL ON CANVAS, 34 3/5″ X 58 7/10″. SIGNED AND DATED L.L. “LEONORA CARRINGTON 1965.” © 2019 ESTATE OF LEONORA CARRINGTON / ARTISTS RIGHTS SOCIETY (ARS), NEW YORK. COURTESY OF GALLERY WENDI NORRIS.

LEONORA CARRINGTON, UNTITLED [PRELIMINARY SKETCHES FOR THE PLAY OPUS SINIESTRUS], 1965, OIL ON CANVAS, 34 3/5″ X 58 7/10″. SIGNED AND DATED L.L. “LEONORA CARRINGTON 1965.” © 2019 ESTATE OF LEONORA CARRINGTON / ARTISTS RIGHTS SOCIETY (ARS), NEW YORK. COURTESY OF GALLERY WENDI NORRIS.

LEONORA CARRINGTON, A MAP OF THE HUMAN ANIMAL, 1962, WATERCOLOR, INK, AND PENCIL ON PAPER, 17″ X 14 1/3″. SIGNED AND DATED L.L. “DEC. 15TH & 16TH 1962 LEONORA CARRINGTON.” © 2019 ESTATE OF LEONORA CARRINGTON / ARTISTS RIGHTS SOCIETY (ARS), NEW YORK. COURTESY OF GALLERY WENDI NORRIS.

LEONORA CARRINGTON, A MAP OF THE HUMAN ANIMAL, 1962, WATERCOLOR, INK, AND PENCIL ON PAPER, 17″ X 14 1/3″. SIGNED AND DATED L.L. “DEC. 15TH & 16TH 1962 LEONORA CARRINGTON.” © 2019 ESTATE OF LEONORA CARRINGTON / ARTISTS RIGHTS SOCIETY (ARS), NEW YORK. COURTESY OF GALLERY WENDI NORRIS.

LEONORA CARRINGTON, FACIAL MASK [FOR THE PLAY OPUS SINIESTRUS], 1976, MESH, ACRYLIC, FELT, CANE, STAMEN, WOOD, AND THREAD, 31″ X 23″ X 4″. CRAFTED BY JANE STEIN AND VITA GIORGIL. COLLECTION TOLA ARCHIVE. COURTESY OF JOANNE POTTLITZER. © 2019 ESTATE OF LEONORA CARRINGTON / ARTISTS RIGHTS SOCIETY (ARS), NEW YORK. COURTESY OF GALLERY WENDI NORRIS.

LEONORA CARRINGTON, FACIAL MASK [FOR THE PLAY OPUS SINIESTRUS], 1976, MESH, ACRYLIC, FELT, CANE, STAMEN, WOOD, AND THREAD, 31″ X 23″ X 4″. CRAFTED BY JANE STEIN AND VITA GIORGIL. COLLECTION TOLA ARCHIVE. COURTESY OF JOANNE POTTLITZER. © 2019 ESTATE OF LEONORA CARRINGTON / ARTISTS RIGHTS SOCIETY (ARS), NEW YORK. COURTESY OF GALLERY WENDI NORRIS.

LEONORA CARRINGTON, OPERATION WEDNESDAY, 1969, OIL AND TEMPERA ON HARDBOARD, 23 3/4″ X 17 5/8″. SIGNED L.L “LEONORA CARRINGTON MARCH 1969”; INSCRIBED “2 DE OCTUBRE 1968…NO OLVIDES TLATELOLCO…LAS TRES CULTURAS…NO TENEMOS TUMBA…CAMPO MILITAR NÚMERO 1,” LOWER RIGHT; “MARCH 1969 DR. FERNANDO ORTIZ MONASTERIO,” VERSO. © 2019 ESTATE OF LEONORA CARRINGTON / ARTISTS RIGHTS SOCIETY (ARS), NEW YORK. COURTESY OF GALLERY WENDI NORRIS.

LEONORA CARRINGTON, OPERATION WEDNESDAY, 1969, OIL AND TEMPERA ON HARDBOARD, 23 3/4″ X 17 5/8″. SIGNED L.L “LEONORA CARRINGTON MARCH 1969”; INSCRIBED “2 DE OCTUBRE 1968…NO OLVIDES TLATELOLCO…LAS TRES CULTURAS…NO TENEMOS TUMBA…CAMPO MILITAR NÚMERO 1,” LOWER RIGHT; “MARCH 1969 DR. FERNANDO ORTIZ MONASTERIO,” VERSO. © 2019 ESTATE OF LEONORA CARRINGTON / ARTISTS RIGHTS SOCIETY (ARS), NEW YORK. COURTESY OF GALLERY WENDI NORRIS.

LEONORA CARRINGTON, QUERÍA SER PÁJARO, 1960, OIL ON CANVAS, 47″ X 35 1/2″. SIGNED AND DATED L.L. “LEONORA CARRINGTON APRIL 1960”; VERSO SIGNED “ENRIQUE ALVAREZ FELIX/ 1960/ LEONORA CARRINGTON.” © ESTATE OF LEONORA CARRINGTON / ARTISTS RIGHTS SOCIETY (ARS), NEW YORK. COURTESY OF GALLERY WENDI NORRIS.

LEONORA CARRINGTON, QUERÍA SER PÁJARO, 1960, OIL ON CANVAS, 47″ X 35 1/2″. SIGNED AND DATED L.L. “LEONORA CARRINGTON APRIL 1960”; VERSO SIGNED “ENRIQUE ALVAREZ FELIX/ 1960/ LEONORA CARRINGTON.” © ESTATE OF LEONORA CARRINGTON / ARTISTS RIGHTS SOCIETY (ARS), NEW YORK. COURTESY OF GALLERY WENDI NORRIS.

LEONORA CARRINGTON, DOUBLE-SIDED MASK FOR HEAD [FOR THE PLAY OPUS SINIESTRUS], 1976, MESH, ACRYLIC, FELT, CANE, YARN, LEATHER, AND VELVET RIBBON, 22 9/10″ X 25 1/2″ X 13″ INCHES [WITH TAPE]. CRAFTED BY JANE STEIN AND VITA GIORGI. COLLECTION TOLA ARCHIVE. COURTESY OF JOANNE POTTLITZER. © 2019 ESTATE OF LEONORA CARRINGTON / ARTISTS RIGHTS SOCIETY (ARS), NEW YORK. COURTESY OF GALLERY WENDI NORRIS.

LEONORA CARRINGTON, DOUBLE-SIDED MASK FOR HEAD [FOR THE PLAY OPUS SINIESTRUS], 1976, MESH, ACRYLIC, FELT, CANE, YARN, LEATHER, AND VELVET RIBBON, 22 9/10″ X 25 1/2″ X 13″ INCHES [WITH TAPE]. CRAFTED BY JANE STEIN AND VITA GIORGI. COLLECTION TOLA ARCHIVE. COURTESY OF JOANNE POTTLITZER. © 2019 ESTATE OF LEONORA CARRINGTON / ARTISTS RIGHTS SOCIETY (ARS), NEW YORK. COURTESY OF GALLERY WENDI NORRIS.

LEONORA CARRINGTON, MUJERES CONCIENCIA, 1972, GOUACHE ON CARDBOARD, 29 1/2″ X 19 5/16″. SIGNED L.L. “OCT. 1941”; VERSO: “WINGED CIHUACOATL (SNAKE WOMAN)/QUETZALCOATL SACRED SERPENT HERMAPHRODITE/RISES AGAIN IN THE TREE OF LIFE WHERE/EVE GIVES EVE BACK THE FRUIT/OF WISDOM/WOMAN TAKE BACK THE ORIGINAL WISDOM/LEONORA CARRINGTON/1972 APRIL.” © 2019 ESTATE OF LEONORA CARRINGTON / ARTISTS RIGHTS SOCIETY (ARS), NEW YORK. COURTESY OF GALLERY WENDI NORRIS.

LEONORA CARRINGTON, MUJERES CONCIENCIA, 1972, GOUACHE ON CARDBOARD, 29 1/2″ X 19 5/16″. SIGNED L.L. “OCT. 1941”; VERSO: “WINGED CIHUACOATL (SNAKE WOMAN)/QUETZALCOATL SACRED SERPENT HERMAPHRODITE/RISES AGAIN IN THE TREE OF LIFE WHERE/EVE GIVES EVE BACK THE FRUIT/OF WISDOM/WOMAN TAKE BACK THE ORIGINAL WISDOM/LEONORA CARRINGTON/1972 APRIL.” © 2019 ESTATE OF LEONORA CARRINGTON / ARTISTS RIGHTS SOCIETY (ARS), NEW YORK. COURTESY OF GALLERY WENDI NORRIS.

LEONORA CARRINGTON, DOWN BELOW, 1940, OIL ON CANVAS, 15 3/4″ X 23 1/2″. SIGNED L.L “LEONORA CARRINGTON 1940.” SIGNED AND DATED EN VERSO: “LEONORA CARRINGTON”; “12 – 12 – 40”; “SANTANDER”; “POUR TOI, RENATO, AU NOM DU MAGIE, LE VERT QUI EST MON COULEUR (28 JAN 1942).” © 2019 ESTATE OF LEONORA CARRINGTON / (ARS), NEW YORK. COURTESY OF GALLERY WENDI NORRIS.

LEONORA CARRINGTON, DOWN BELOW, 1940, OIL ON CANVAS, 15 3/4″ X 23 1/2″. SIGNED L.L “LEONORA CARRINGTON 1940.” SIGNED AND DATED EN VERSO: “LEONORA CARRINGTON”; “12 – 12 – 40”; “SANTANDER”; “POUR TOI, RENATO, AU NOM DU MAGIE, LE VERT QUI EST MON COULEUR (28 JAN 1942).” © 2019 ESTATE OF LEONORA CARRINGTON / (ARS), NEW YORK. COURTESY OF GALLERY WENDI NORRIS.

LEONORA CARRINGTON, AND THEN WE SAW THE DAUGHTER OF THE MINOTAUR!, 1953, OIL ON CANVAS, 23 3/5″ X 27 1/2″. SIGNED L.L. “LEONORA CARRINGTON 1953.” © 2019 ESTATE OF LEONORA CARRINGTON / ARTISTS RIGHTS SOCIETY (ARS), NEW YORK. COURTESY OF GALLERY WENDI NORRIS.

LEONORA CARRINGTON, AND THEN WE SAW THE DAUGHTER OF THE MINOTAUR!, 1953, OIL ON CANVAS, 23 3/5″ X 27 1/2″. SIGNED L.L. “LEONORA CARRINGTON 1953.” © 2019 ESTATE OF LEONORA CARRINGTON / ARTISTS RIGHTS SOCIETY (ARS), NEW YORK. COURTESY OF GALLERY WENDI NORRIS.

All images appear courtesy of Gallery Wendi Norris. “Leonora Carrington: The Story of the Last Egg” is on view through June 29, 2019.