Art, Books

Surrealism sans machismo

Leonora Carrington (1917- 2011) was the last of the great surrealists. Her paintings can be found in the collections of the Prado Madrid, MOMA New York, in Buenes Aires, Washington, the Guggenheim in Venice, Tokyo and Mexico City. She significantly influenced the painters Max Ernst and Remedios Varo. In Mexico she is a household name, where before her death she was regarded as the finest living painter. Salvador Dali called her “the most important female artist”. In 2005 her painting The Juggler sold for the highest price ever paid worldwide for a living surrealist painter. She was also a wonderful writer and her comic novel The Hearing Trumpet (published by Penguin Modern Classics) is a riot of English irony. It is a narrative, written in the 1950s, that uses magic realism long before Marquez. She wrote an absurdist and fantastical play called The Invention of Mole (1957), and also collaborated with Octavio Paz. André Breton included one of her short stories in his seminal Anthology of Black Humour (one of only two women and the only English writer, save for Swift, Lewis Carroll and Arthur Cravan). Björk sings praises of Carrington’s humour and lawlessness. Between 1937 and 1940 she wrote literal and surreal fairy stories in French that were circulated in Surrealist publications. Bunuel once said of her work “it liberates us from the miserable reality of our days”. Continue reading


A Tale of a Tub


Here is a photograph of a woman washing in a bathtub. Her big black boots are on a bathmat made dirty by them, and her clothes are discarded on a chair under her wristwatch. She is scrubbing her neck with a flannel and there is a framed photograph of Adolf Hitler on the lip of the tub. It was taken on the evening of 30th April1945 in the bathroom of Hitler’s residence in Munich, the night Hitler and Eva Braun committed suicide in their bunker in Berlin. Continue reading