Chelsea's Most Exciting Figurative Art Gallery
138 West 17th Street 9th Floor, New
York, NY 10001
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is magnificent, perturbing, mocking enigmatic, terrible and compassionate.
She is Leonor Fini; painter of the surreal, illustrator of books, theater
Catherine Styles McLeod Architectural Digest, March 1986
Rasch, Rasch, Rasch . . . Mein puppen warten, 1975, Oil on Canvas
Leonor Fini was born in Argentina in 1907. Her mother was Italian and her father was an Argentinean of Italian descent. Spirited away to Trieste by her mother before she was a year old; for the first six or seven years of her life, she was disguised as a boy whenever she left her home to avoid kidnap attempts by her father.
Raised in the "Bohemian" salons of a radically changing Europe
between the two World Wars, her precociousness manifested in the creation
of a persona of incredibly strong will and intense sensitivity.
By the time she relocated to Paris in 1931, she was already an intimate of Giorgio De Chirico, and his circle. In Paris she was quickly 'adopted' by Max Ernst and the Surrealist artists that surrounded him. A motor trip through Italy cemented her friendships with Henri Cartier-Bresson and Andre Pierre Mandiargues. (A photograph of Fini nude in a swimming pool, pubis shaved, by Cartier-Bresson set a world's record for his work at auction in 2007.)
Julian Levy, the art dealer responsible for bringing the Surrealists to America became her American dealer and first introduced her in a joint show at his Madison Avenue gallery with Max Ernst in 1936 and as a participant in the Dada and Surrealism Exhibition at the New York Museum of Modern Art.
Although she never considered herself a Surrealist - primarily because she would not accept the 'role' of muse assigned to her by Breton - she nevertheless has participated in almost every major Surrealism exhibition. More recently was her inclusion in the Surrealism exhibition mounted in 2001 by England's prestigious Tate Museum. The show will also travelled to the Metropolitan Museum in New York City. She was also represented with three canvases and a photo portrait by Dora Marr in the "Surrealism -Two Private Eyes" exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum in 1999 and she was a focal point in the "Peggy Guggenheim 100th Birthday" show at that same museum.
Leonor Fini has always gone her own way. The only internationally recognized female artist before the 1970's who was not aligned with a male artist of greater fame, she made a name for herself by sheer dint of talent and force of personality. She would not make allowances for mediocrity for herself any more than she would accept it from others. Asking Picasso why he kept doing the "same old s---" and telling Andre Breton to commit an impossible act upon himself are only two examples of Fini's independent nature and her refusal to 'behave.'
An enigma, Leonor Fini has been written about, photographed and been befriended by most of the great and talented people that passed through Paris during the middle decades of the nineteen hundreds. Often referred to as "a painter's painter" she has influenced a majority of the figurative painters of the 20th Century. She once pulled the original maquette for Andy Warhol's Twenty five Cat Named Sam, which he had sent her as his inspiration for the book, from under her sofa.
The questions as to what "school" of art she belongs to; to whom can she be compared, is she a painter, an illustrator, a designer, a feminist, a mystic, a voluptuary are superfluous. Her answer would have been that she is Leonor Fini.
Neil Zukerman, owner of CFM Gallery, had the extreme pleasure of being a friend of Fini's for the final eighteen years of her life. Zukerman has authenticated Fini's work for both Sothebey's and Christies in New York and London. He is also the author of three books about Fini; "Leonor Fini - La Vie Ideale," "Leonor Fini - The Artist as Designer," "Illustrated Catalogue of Leonor Fini Books,"as well as magazine articles and catalog essays. He is currently co-authoring "The paintings of Leonor Fini - Catalogue raisonné" with Fini's Ayant Droit, Richard Overstreet to be published by Skira, Italy.
The collection of her work available at CFM is arguably the largest collection of her art in the world.
Many Leonor Fini books are available from CFM Gallery
Here to See Leonor Fini's Contribution to L'Apocalypse de St. Jean
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Exquisite technique coupled with artistic vision defines our user-friendly presentation of figurative fine art paintings, sculptures and original graphics. Contemporary symbolism at its apex in the traditions of Bosch, the Italian Renaissance, Art Deco, Art Nouveau, the Viennese and German Secession and the symbolist movements with an edge of surrealism.