The following was taken from Julie Byrd's paper Les Femmes Surrealistes presented at the Interdisciplinary Cross-Cultural Conference at the University of Illinois on March 3, 1995. Sincere thanks to Ms. Byrd for her work.
Paintings by Leonor Fini executed during the 1930's often include, women in whose dark catlike eyes and sensuous mouths, reveal the artist herself. In her life as well as her art, Fini continually advanced this idea of an absolute beautiful, autonomous, and authoritarian woman governed by passion. She was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, but spent her childhood in Trieste. She left her family at age 17 and established herself in Paris before W.W.II. "Léonor Fini moved from Italy to Paris in 1936. Although she formed close personal friendships with many Surrealists and periodically exhibited with the group, her dislike of the authoritarian Breton prevented her from joining the movement ( Chadwick, p. 82)." Fini met Leonora Carrington in 1937 and the two became very close friends. They decided to spend part of the summer together that year. Fini later included a full length portrait of Carrington in her painting The Alclove: An Interior With Three Women. In it she reveals Carrington as a woman warrior, "a true revolutionary," autonomous and released from the image of femininity created by man. ( Chadwick, p. 82 )." Fini refuses to accept the world defined by man so she uses painting as a method of creating a world designed by female desires. By placing the woman at the center of the these compositions, and making her experience of the world paramount, she asserts a female consciousness that has no need of manifestos, theories, or proselytizing. In Leonor Fini's works, the masculine and feminine images are always presented in a sexual confrontation but the eroticism in her work is diffused during the scene and is not centered on specific images...at no time does the female body become objectified as it so often does in the work of Delvaux, Masson, Magritte (Chadwick p. 87). Profound belief in the ability to shape the exterior world according to one's desire is rare among women of Fini's generation. Cultivating her own individuality, she placed her own freedom and autonomy to a degree that seems the embodiment of the surrealist ideal, but that was, in fact, equaled by few surrealists. Toyen