Leonora Carrington: “wild card”

McAra, Catriona (2019) Leonora Carrington: “wild card”. The Space Between: Literature and Culture 1914-1945, 14. ISSN 1551-9309

Abstract

The “Artists in Exile” surrealist group portrait of 1942 arguably marks a moment of recognition and inclusion for Leonora Carrington as well as, paradoxically, her moment of “exoticization” and temporary exclusion from Anglo-American criticism at large. The existing literature on Carrington is already unfairly weighted towards her early career in the late 1930s and early 1940s, when indeed she would go on to produce radical and challenging paintings, sculptures, novels, tapestries, plays, set designs and costumes well into her nineties. So why another reading of Carrington’s wartime output? For one, it is useful to present a clearer timeline of her movements and locations, and secondly, it is necessary to review her intermedial contributions to the surrealist magazines of this period. This paper will propose that Carrington was, in fact, at the heart of the avant-garde during this period, a point which has provided fertile ground for future-feminist revisionary commentaries such as Marina Warner, as well as more recent historiographies and creative reinterpretations by Lucy Skaer. A reconsideration of Carrington’s output from this wartime interlude in New York City, including her short story “White Rabbits” (1941) and her Untitled etching for VVV Portfolio (1942), provides insights into her instinctual avant-garde senses of liminality and transgression as well as evidencing the profound respect and acknowledgement her peers held towards her. McAra shared an earlier version of this research at the Biblioteca Nacional de México on the occasion of Carrington’s centenary (6 April 2017) organised through the Leonora Carrington Estate.

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