What Did Home Mean to Leonora Carrington?

“Houses are really bodies,” Leonora Carrington writes in her 1974 novella The Hearing Trumpet. “We connect ourselves with walls, roofs, and objects just as we hang onto our livers, skeletons, flesh, and blood streams.” Like bodies, homes are intimate places, and Carrington was staunchly private with hers. The British expat lived much of her long life in Mexico, but she also resided in mansions, pensions, apartments, and cottages in London, Paris, Florence, Madrid, Lisbon, New York, Chicago, and other locales. We know from Carrington’s writing that home was an essential, even corporeal concept. How did the many places in which she lived shape who she was and how she made art?

In Surreal Spaces: The Life and Art of Leonora Carrington (Princeton University Press, 2023), the British journalist and writer Joanna Moorhead explores how each of the artist’s homes marked her life and work. Moorhead revisits all of Carrington’s former residences, seeking traces of the artist in their surrounding landscapes, climates, and communities. Crucially, many of these locations have changed little since the artist left them, allowing Moorhead plenty of room to excavate fascinating details about Carrington’s life.

Featured Image: Leonora Carrington, “The Bird Men of Burnley” (1970), oil on canvas; Private Collection (courtesy Gallery Wendi Norris, San Francisco)

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