Leonor Fini, a Life Less than Ordinary

Leonor Fini (1907 –1996) was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, although her heritage was European and she spent her formative years in Trieste, Italy with her mother. The turbulent marriage of her parents aided in creating the young Fini as a rebellious and independent character who would later become an internationally recognised painter, designer and author.

Moving first to Milan then later to Paris in the early 1930s enabled her youthful talent to blossom and she was soon mingling with the Avant Garde elite of the Western art world. As a self-taught artist her early painting work began to explore an intriguing world of symbolism, mythology and sexuality, often focusing on the female form. Whether sphinxes, queens or demons, Fini’s expression would fast become entangled with the Surrealist movement and she began to exhibit both at home and abroad to great acclaim.

La fête secrète , 1964

As the artist gained a reputation for her work, the subject matter would often include erotic scenes of lesbianism, though Fini declared she herself was bisexual. Having had affairs with women, the artist drifted mostly between two male lovers and refused to settle for any form of traditional or typical lifestyle. Her work, in its frequent presentation of matriarchs and androgynous women seemed to mirror her own unique strength and individual style.

Le lecon de botanique, 1974.

Fini granted her viewers fascinating, sensual and bold female subjects extracted from the imagination of a female painter, in contrast to projections of male desire, fantasy and fear shaped by her surrealist contemporaries, such as Dali and Man Ray.

Sphinx Ariene, 1973

In her eccentricity, the painter also acquired twenty three cats who would sometimes share her dining table.

After a lifetime of exceptional creativity, Fini died in Paris in 1996 and her work is today an integral part of the finest art collections in the city, as well as in New York and London.

Leonor Fini (1907 –1996)

Ever true to her early nonconformity, the painter once stated,  “I always imagined I would have a life very different from the one that was imagined for me, but I understood from a very early time that I would have to revolt in order to make that life.” …And indeed she did.

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