Leonor Fini was the only woman fully inducted into the original circle of Paris Surrealists, led by André Breton and including Dali, Max Ernst, and the writer André Pieyre de Mandiargues, among others. Fini’s work, like that of the other Surrealists, dealt in imagery of the subconscious rather than depicting the world as seen by the eye. It is interesting to consider, with Fini, the difference between what one sees and what one envisions. Her initial, surreal works came about after an eye infection that kept her bandaged - essentially blindfolded - for nearly a year in her young adulthood. Shortly after, she began to paint the waking dreams and visions she had experienced without sight. One significant, distinguishing characteristic of Fini’s Surrealism is the role of the female character, which, unexpectedly for her time, was unabashedly depicted as powerful, dominant, and even subjugating. 

Fini’s fame through the 1930s, 40s and 50s regarded her public persona as much as her painting. She dressed theatrically, appeared at every party of note in Paris, and generally failed to fit the mold of the proper, polite woman. She openly shirked the prescription of marriage, and engaged multiple, very public affairs before settling - if it can be called such - with her two favorite lovers in a Paris apartment in 1946, where she lived and worked for the subsequent 5 decades. 

Fini’s individualism and disregard for societal norms allowed extreme productivity throughout a decades-long artistic career, well beyond the lifespan of the formal movement of Surrealism. She manipulated and distorted her subject matter to convey her attitudes about power, sex, relationship, and the political world at large, yielding a vast portfolio rich in dreamlike scenarios and re-imaginations of social roles. 


(note: more works available)