Women at work: Leonora Carrington

“I WARN YOU, I REFUSE TO BE AN OBJECT.” Those words greet visitors to the Leonora Carrington Foundation website. Rebellious and strident, Carrington forged a remarkable artistic career in Europe, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Keen on the work of the surrealists, she was 20 when she met German artist Max Ernst at a party in 1937.

The arc of the relationship is cinematic: his broken marriage; their artistic collaboration and cohabitation in Paris; his arrest by the Gestapo for making “degenerate” art; his escape via marriage to collector Peggy Guggenheim; her nervous breakdown and creative rebirth. In time, she made her way to Mexico City, where she championed women’s rights.

Her work incorporated magical realism and drew from autobiographical detail, subverting male surrealists’ characterization of female sexuality. “I didn’t have time to be anyone’s muse,” she said. In 2005, Mia was given her spooky Dear Diary–Never Since We Left Prague, loaded with elusive imagery of a snake climbing a ladder, dice, and dragonflies.

—written with Diane Richard, Mia editor

“Women at Work” celebrates Women’s History Month by highlighting female artists in Mia’s collection.

Images: (left) Detail of Dear Diary–Never Since We Left Prague in the collection of the Minneapolis Institute of Art, © Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; (right) Leonora Carrington Foundation