Thursday, May 26, 2011

Gardening, With a Touch of Surrealism

When I read that artist Leonora Carrington died yesterday, I realized I knew very little about her work. Her name sounded familiar to me, but I could not recall much else. I immediately wanted to get familiar, at least to some degree.

I'm not particularly smitten by surrealistic art, although I do like some of the work by Rene Magritte, Salvador Dali, Max Ernst (with whom Ms. Carrington had a long term relationship), and even a little bit of Frida Kahlo, who doesn't seem to fit entirely into that school of painting. I'm not sure where Frida fits, but that's for another discussion.

Anyway, Leonora Carrington was British born, then moved to Mexico sometime in the 1960's after many tumultuous years in Europe. She remained in Mexico until she crossed the bridge yesterday. No, not that bridge, the one across forever.

While looking online at images of her work, I found the photographs of her even more appealing.  I'm a big romantic when it comes to people who find their way in the world through the creative process, who live outside the norm, walking somewhere on the razor's edge. This woman certainly did, in both painting and sculpting, as well as writing novels. I have to say, her sculpture speaks to me more than her paintings. There's something about this wise, deer-like being in robes I really like.

Which brings me, in some roundabout fashion, to a conversation I had last night with my sister, Chris, who lives in Texas Hill Country. I was telling her about my ongoing struggle to whip my gardens into shape and that I was feeling a bit under the gun as our sister, Judy, who has beautiful flower gardens, would be stopping by this weekend. I told her, "My flower beds will never look like Judy's."  She replied, with what passes for compassion in a family with a robust sense of humor, "Well, no, she's Martha Stewart and you're Frida Kahlo." 

The top two paintings are by Leonora Carrington.
The two photographs are of Ms. Carrington, as well.
The bottom image is a self-portrait of Frida Kahlo.


  1. Well, you have given me a whole cadre of interesting women to check out, now that I know you are a Frida Kahlo! This was sure a fun post for me! :-)

  2. Hah, well sisters certainly do come through for us when we need it the most!
    No, not a surreal fan either but some is interesting; such as Dali! takes me back to my art appreciation course in college! :)What I mostly appreciated was the prof was really 'hot'! so I sat in the front row!

  3. Well, I went out to find out about Frida Kahlo. Even after I read the article I didn't get it. I am an art moron.

    However, I do like the deer sculpture also.

  4. That was a superb compliment and I hardly think Frida would even want to compete with Martha :)

  5. DJan, I'm a Frida Kahlo. I will say it loud and say it proud! :)

    Tracy, Ha Ha, I love it, your art appreciation sort of sounds like my love of geology. ;)

    Linda, Not necessarily an art moron. Sometimes there's nothing to "get." It really is just what appeals to us, our emotional senses, and there is no right or wrong.

    Manzanita, I told Chris, "Thank You," We agreed, it's much preferable.

  6. Hello Teresa:
    What a very fascinating post about a woman who clearly lived her life as she wished, and who so obviously had enormous talent in a variety of different areas. Unless we are very much mistaken, neither she, nor her work, is widely known in the UK. We shall try to find an obituary.

    As for your garden, it is what it is [and we are sure that it is lovely] as you are your own person. Confidence, Teresa, confidence!

  7. OK, I'm going to steal that line - my sis has beautiful, sculpted gardens, and mine :)) I agree with you in that I often prefer photos and biographies about particular artists to their actual works sometimes.

  8. Her talent is remarkable to examine. I have a daughter who borders this area of art a bit.I am trying to get her to decorate my metal chairs i have around the yard.

    Ahh and you are beseiged by the Blogger sign on.
    Steve, OOTP

  9. Jane and Lance, Once I looked into her story a bit more, I was very intrigued. Even wikipedia has info that could be the springboard for further reading, if one was so inclined.

    Hi Li, It's a great line. My sister has a great (and insightful!) sense of humor. The lives of artists continually provide food for thought and good reading, don't they?

    Steve! Good old blogger is at it again. If you ever get her to paint those chairs do post pics of them!

  10. Surrealism in the garden...I am reminded of one gardener, P. Allen Smith, who said that every garden should have some whimsy. Your post fits that thought nicely.

  11. I tried and tried and tried to comment on this, but the puter wasn't gonna let me. Finally I'm able to comment...I love Frida Kahlo and can't wait for you to write your thoughts.

  12. Hi Paul, I will need to look into that. It might be encouraging. :)

  13. Lynn! I'm so glad you finally got through! Darn Blogger. Frustrating, isn't it? Anyhoo, I shall try to do her justice, at least from my perspective. Thank you.

  14. Well, I say let her be Martha. Frida is WAY cooler! Thank you for sharing Leonara's story, Teresa. I, too, am inspired by artists who went their own direction and did it "their way!" Rest in Peace, Leonara!!

  15. I have never heard of her before but have seen this deer that you show. It's amazing as is the story about her. I agree with you about the photos of her and her sculptures: they seem to be the best. There's something romantic about living the life that you really want to live, isn't there? It sounds as if she did! You just her justice in this post and I'm happy to have learned about her. There's nothing bad about Frida either! I love her style.

  16. My house cleaning is like Freida Cahlo; I love that wise deer like sculpture, so svelte, sultry and wise as you say. Gardening is like clay, it's a process, a constant process.

    My followers are missing on my blog and I can't sign out, not sure what is happening. I gave them a message on the help section.

  17. Well,surrealists had lives even more interesting than their art.Which is how it should be,I guess...

  18. Joan, They are very inspiring, those stories in which people carved out their own unique path. It's what makes them artists, I suppose.

    Hi Teri, Yes, living the life you really want seems synonymous with living the life you were Meant to live.

    Linda, I finally realized that my garden is an ongoing process and that's what it is all about. I'm going to try to enjoy the process, the journey, a bit more.

    Tony, Yes, it's what makes a surrealist a surrealist, I suppose. :)

  19. Great post; I love that you look up interesting people when they die, and we all learn more about them. I see a bit of Georgia O'Keeffe in her work, too. Love your sister's description. I would guess t's a pretty wonderful thing to be Frida, without all of Frida's problems!

  20. Nancy, I would not want her problems, that's certain, and those lives look interesting from a distance. Up close, there's often a lot of pain.... Still, we remain intrigued.

  21. Hi Teresa, it's Farmlady and you have another follower.
    I love this blog of yours. I feel akin to how you see the world. When I clicked on and saw Jack Kerouac, I knew I was in the right place.... and then Walt Whitman, Van Gogh, and Rumi... I knew this was a blog of substance.

    Carrington's dream world is not my favorite art, but that wise deer, sitting on a city sidewalk, has come to me in dreams. It is familiar.... So beautiful I would, if I were there, stand for a moment hoping for a conversation.
    I love your sister's response to you about gardens. I have a sign in my garden that says " In search of my mother's garden, I found my own."
    We can only be ourselves....

  22. Farmlady, Thank you so much for your kind words about my blog. I'm happy to know we share an affinity for these fine people who have inspired and taught us well.

    I know what you mean about having a conversation with this wise deer. I would love to know about your dream....

    Your words today are timely and I'm deeply appreciative of them.

  23. I'm a bit embarrassed to say I'm not familiar with Leonora Carrington. Now you've got me curious!

    I've always been fascinated by Frida Kahlo...she had such a strange life. Her self portraits don't do her justice, though...she was really a pretty woman, I think.

  24. CherylK, She was a mystery to me, and I was so surprised to see her work so very similar to Frida's. I'm betting she was an interesting woman.