LEONOR FINI

(Argentinian, 1907-1996)

TWO STANDING FIGURES

India Ink on Paper

13¾ x 9½ Inches

Signed Lower Right, "Leonor Fini"

 

A seminal figure in the early Surrealist movement, Fini maintained an original and evolving style over a long and storied career. Her work may be found in the permanent collections of museums and public collections world-wide.

 

Leonor Fini was born in Argentina to an Italian mother and an Argentine father. As an infant, she was taken to Trieste by her mother and, for the first six or seven years of her life, disguised as a boy to avoid kidnap attempts by her father.

 

Raised in the "Bohemian" salons of a radically changing Europe between the two World Wars, her precociousness manifested in the creation of a persona of incredibly strong will and intense sensitivity. Thrown out of every school she attended for her lack of adherence to 'rules,' she educated herself by reading - she had read the works of Freud before she was 16 years old - and studying the world around her. After discovering her passion for art, she studied cadavers in the morgues of Trieste to learn anatomy. An intense curiosity and intelligence set her apart from her peers and endeared her to the artistic and literary circles that populated Trieste during her formative years.

 

By the time she relocated to Paris in 1931, she was already an intimate of Giorgio De Chirico, and his circle. In Paris she was quickly 'adopted' by Max Ernst and the Surrealist artists that surrounded him. A motor trip through Italy cemented her friendships with Henri Cartier-Bresson and Andre Pierre Mandiargues. (A Cartier-Bresson photograph of Fini nude in a swimming pool set a world record for his work at auction in 2007.)

 

Julian Levy, the art dealer responsible for bringing the Surrealists to America became her American dealer and first introduced her in a joint show at his Madison Avenue gallery with Max Ernst in 1936 and as a participant in the Dada and Surrealism Exhibition at the New York Museum of Modern Art.

 

Although she never considered herself a Surrealist - primarily because she would not accept the 'role' of muse assigned to her by Breton - she nevertheless has participated in almost every major Surrealism exhibition. More recently was her inclusion in the Surrealism exhibition mounted in 2001 by London's Tate Gallery. The show will also traveled to the Metropolitan Museum in New York City. She was also represented with three canvases and a photo portrait by Dora Marr in the "Surrealism -Two Private Eyes" exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum in 1999 and she was a focal point in the "Peggy Guggenheim 100th Birthday" show at that same museum.

 

Leonor Fini has always gone her own way. The only internationally recognized female artist before the 1970's who was not aligned with a male artist of greater fame, she made a name for herself by sheer dint of talent and force of personality. She would not make allowances for mediocrity for herself any more than she would accept it from others. Asking Picasso why he kept doing the "same old s---" and telling Andre Breton to commit an impossible act upon himself are only two examples of Fini's independent nature and her refusal to 'behave.'

 

A life-long enigma, Leonor Fini has been written about, photographed and befriended by most of the great and talented people that passed through Paris during the middle decades of the twentieth century. Often referred to as "a painter's painter" she has influenced a majority of the figurative painters of the 20th Century. She once pulled the original maquette for Andy Warhol's Twenty five Cat Named Sam, which he had sent her as his inspiration for the book, from under her sofa. (Courtesy Neil Zukerman, CFM Gallery)

 

This drawing is accompanied by a first-edition copy of "Leonor Fini" (Jean-Claude Dedieu, Editions Frederic Birr, Paris, 1978). The volume is inscribed with a title-page dedication from the editor: "To his Excellence, the Prince Leopoldo Arnoldo Petrucci of Vacone and Sienna... this volume of Leonor Fini, painter, poet and Italian."

 

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