Why Leonor Fini’s Seductive Surrealist Paintings Are Resonating with Collectors Today

Arkady D.
While she is often referred to as a Surrealist and her work resembles the movement’s style, Fini disavowed the term, setting herself apart from the group’s misogyny that came to dictate its curatorial vision in the 1930s (Frida Kahlo would disavow Surrealism for similar reasons in the 1940s). The largely self-taught Buenos Aires–born, Paris-based artist approached painting through an alchemy of science and magic, which undergird her paintings’ nocturnal scenes. To many audiences, Fini might be considered the darker sister of the more well-known Leonora Carrington, her contemporary. Whereas Carrington’s work bewitches audiences through her singular use of figuration, Fini’s work hexes us through sinister masks and distorted bodies and faces. Like Carrington, though, Fini sought to refute the idealized, sexualized image of womanhood presented by their male Surrealist contemporaries. Instead, in Fini’s work we find darkly garish presentations of women. And like Carrington, the late Fini’s work (she died in 1996) has recently attracted renewed attention by the art market, institutions, and contemporary women painters like Sarah Slappey and Madeleine Roger-Lacan.