Wonderful and scarcely seen Japanese catalogue on the work of Argentine artist Leonor Fini. Profusely illustrated throughout with Fini’s incredible (Surrealist) paintings and drawings from 1936-1972, in colour and black and white. Includes biography and artist’s introduction by Fini in French. All other texts are in Japanese.
Leonor Fini (1907–1996), an Argentine painter, designer, illustrator, and author, known for her depictions of powerful women, is considered one of the most important women artists of the twentieth century and also one of the most misunderstood.
Fini had no formal artistic training. Born in Buenos Aires, she travelled extensively from a young age, living in Milan and then moving to Paris in 1931-32 where she was considered part of a pre-war generation of Parisian artists, becoming acquainted with Carlo Carrà and Giorgio de Chirico, who inspired much of her work, and also Paul Éluard, Max Ernst, Georges Bataille, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Picasso, Salvador Dalí, and André Pieyre de Mandiargues. She had her first one person show in Paris when she was twenty-five at a gallery directed by Christian Dior. Her work caught on fast and was included in the pivotal and groundbreaking Fantastic Art, Dada and Surrealism exhibition at the MOMA in 1936 while at the same time she had her first New York exhibition at the avant-garde Julien Levy Galley. Surrealist artists in France came to know her as important in the movement. She is mentioned in most comprehensive works about surrealism, although she did not consider herself a surrealist, nor a part of any particular artistic movement. Fini preferred to stake her own claim on modernism with a vision that owes more to the farthest shores of her imagination than to any affiliation with art trends, schools or movements. The originality of her art as well as her intelligence, famous wit and charisma accorded her celebrity status in the Paris art world and beyond beginning in the late thirties. Her panache and glamour, once they found a place in the collective imagination of the time, turned her into a much-publicized fashion and feminist icon. Always controversial, with as many detractors as admirers, she lived and painted consummately on her own terms.
In Paris in 1939 she curated the inaugural exhibition of her friend Leo Castelli’s first gallery (of surrealist furniture) and shortly thereafter, just before the German occupation, she traveled with André and a new lover to Arcachon in the southwest of France to begin waiting out the war. She remained there for almost a year with Salvador and Gala Dali before moving to Monte Carlo where she met the young Italian diplomat, Stanislao Lepri who became one of the great and enduring loves of her life. As the war intensified she moved with Stanislao to Rome where she lived, worked and formed close friendships with Anna Magnani, Luchino Visconti and other leading figures of world of art and letters. After the Liberation of Paris in 1946 she returned there to live and work for the remainder of her life, exhibiting extensively around the world.
The predominant themes in Leonor Fini’s art are sexual tensions, mysteries and games. One of her favored subjects is the interplay between the dominant female and the passive male, and in many of her most powerful works the female takes the form of the sphinx to which she felt a strong identification. She was also a renowned portraitist, and among her subjects were such friends as writers André Pieyre de Mandiargues, Jean Genet, Klaus Mann (son of Thomas), such actresses as Anna Magnani and Suzanne Flon, ballerina Margot Fonteyn, film director Luchino Visconti and artists Meret Oppenheim and Leonora Carrington.
Her genius for stage and screen design is evident in her numerous ground breaking theater decors with their elaborate conception, costumes and phantasmagorical masks. She designed for the Paris Opera, George Balanchine’s ballet Palais de Crystal, and choreographer Roland Petit’s company Ballets de Paris, for Maria Callas at the La Scala theater in Milan, as well as over seventy productions at theaters in Paris between 1946 and 1969. She had a unique talent for film design and created costumes for Fellini’s 8 ½ as well as for Renato Castellani’s Romeo and Juliet and John Huston’s A Walk with Love and Death.
In the 1970s, she wrote three novels, Rogomelec, Moumour, Contes pour enfants velu and Oneiropompe. Her friends included Jean Cocteau, Giorgio de Chirico, and Alberto Moravia, Fabrizio Clerici and most of the other artists and writers inhabiting or visiting Paris. She illustrated many works by the great authors and poets, including Edgar Allan Poe, Charles Baudelaire and Shakespeare, as well as texts by new writers. She was very generous with her illustrations and donated many drawings to writers to help them get published. She is, perhaps, best known for her graphic illustrations for Histoire d’O.
The provocative and much-publicized life of Leonor Fini was pure theater. Her story is that of a hard-won struggle to forge her life as a woman artist in a man’s world and to invent herself on her own terms. It is the story of a woman possessing exceptional independence, a highly original vision and great personal magnetism who lived passionately through her art and friendships and in the process became a feminist role model.
* Condition: Good-Very Good (light wear to cover, ageing, loose leaf page that is not bound but inserted, which is common across all copies of this book as it was not bound into the original print run – therefore not damage) – All care is taken to provide accurate condition details of used books, photos available on request.
- Leonor Fini (1972)
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