Leonor Fini (Argentine/French, 1907–1996) was a painter, graphic designer, illustrator, and set and costume designer associated with the Surrealist movement. Born in Buenos Aires, the largely self-taught artist moved to Italy, where she held her first solo exhibition in 1929. In 1931, she relocated to Paris, and soon became associated with the Surrealists, first exhibiting with them in 1933. While there, she befriended and a number of famous artists, including Paul Éluard, Salvador Dalí, Man Ray, and Max Ernst.

Attracting the attention of American dealer Julien Levy, Fini traveled to New York in 1936, where she took part in a joint gallery exhibition with Ernst, and met American surrealists, including Joseph Cornell and Pavel Tchelitchew. Her work was included in The Museum of Modern Art’s seminal exhibition Fantastic Art, Dada and Surrealism, along with Giorgio De Chirico, Dalí, Ernst, and Yves Tanguy.

In 1939 in Paris, she curated an exhibition of Surrealist furniture for her childhood friend Leo Castelli for the opening of his first gallery.

Fini’s art focused on the complex relationship between men and women, primarily the interaction between the dominant female and the passive male. In many of her works, the female figure takes the form of a sphinx, often with the face of the artist. In addition, Fini was also an accomplished portrait painter, and her subjects included many of the most famous artists, actresses, and socialites of the day. Fini was also an accomplished stage and screen designer, creating award-winning sets, costumes, and posters for the Paris Opera and the Metropolitan Opera Association, George Balanchine’s Le Palais de cristal, Anouilh’s Les Demoiselles de la nuit, Renato Castellani’s Romeo and Juliet, Federico Fellini’s 8 ½, and John Huston’s A Walk with Love, among others.

Fini died in Paris.

Timeline

1907
Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina
1931
Moved to Paris, France
1996
Died in Paris, France

Exhibitions

1974
Galerie Altmann-Carpentier, Paris, France (solo)
Collection Peggy Guggenheim, Orangerie, Paris, France
1972
Galerie Verriere, Paris, France
Le Surrealisme, Haus der Kunst, Munich; Musee des Arts Decoratifs, Paris, France
1970
Galerie Isa Brachot, Bruxelles, Belgium (solo)
Galerie Lambert Monet, Geneve, Switzerland (solo)
Galerie II Fauno, Turin, Italy (solo)
Surrealisme, Musee de Bordeaux, France
1969
Galerie Brockstaedt,Hambourg, Germany (solo)
Galerie Gmurzynska, Cologne, Germany (solo)
1968
Galerie Torbandena, Trieste, Italy (solo)
Tresors du Surrealisme, Knokke-le-Zoute, Belgium
1967
Hannover Gallery, Londres, UK (solo)
1966
Labyrinthe, Berlin, Germany
Art fantastique, Vienne, Austria
1965
Retrospective, Casino, Knokke-le-Zoute, Belgium (solo)
Galerie Iolas, Paris, France (solo)
1964
Le Surrealisme, Galerie Charpentier, Paris, France
1963
Iolas Gallery, New York, NY (solo)
1959
Galerie Reve Droite,Paris, France (solo)
1957
Galerie Galatea, Turin, Italy (solo)
Boach, Goya et le Fantastique, Bordeaux, France
1956
Galerie Drouand-David, Paris, France (solo)
1948
Palais des Beaux-Arts, Bruxelles, Belgium (solo)

Literature

1968
Constantin Jelenski. Leonor Fini. Lausanne: Clairefontaine, Lausanne, 1968