10.02.18 / New York / New York

‘Leonor Fini: Theatre of Desire’ Showcases an Artist Ahead of Her Time

Taking a different approach to depicting women in 20th century art

In the early 20th century, as the Surrealist movement was led by renowned artists like Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, and Max Ernst, Leonor Fini wanted to do things differently. The Argentine-Italian artist noticed that women often served as muses, but that wasn’t a tradition she wanted to conform to. Throughout her career she played around with gender norms, which made her the perfect subject for a new survey, Leonor Fini: Theatre of Desire 1930-1990, at the Museum of Sex. Here her expressive paintings often feature delicate depictions of men alongside women in more dominating positions. Her gender reversals alongside more erotic imagery made her distinctive among artists, especially female artists in the 20th century. This also lent itself to collaboration, the most natural being illustrations for the Marguis de Sade’s Juliette. She continued to work with artists include Jean Cocteau, George Balanchine, and even Federico Fellini, expanding into costume design. Curated by Lissa Rivera, Leonor Fini: Theatre of Desire 1930-1990 covers the range of her prolific output. More importantly, as awareness of women rights issues are becoming more and more widespread, the images of her powerful self-portraits feel as much like a message to viewers as they do a reflection of an artist ahead of her time.

‘Leonor Fini: Theatre of Desire 1930-1990’ is on view at the Museum of Sex through March 4th, 2019

[Woman Seated on Naked Man, 1942]

[Woman in Armor I (Femme en armure I),c. 1938]

[The Alcove/Self-Portrait with Nico Papatakis]

[The Botany Lesson (La Leçon de botanique), 1974]

[Portrait of a Woman with Acanthus Leaves (Portrait de femme aux feuilles d’acanthe), 1946]

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