The iconoclastic Leonor Fini was arguably the most ferociously and heroically independent woman artist of the 20th century. Fini herself never accepted the label of "woman artist," and likewise, never considered herself a Surrealist. She never sacrificed her independence to Andr? Breton, the leader of the movement, and abhorred his misogynist views. Nonetheless, her works have been included in nearly every major Surrealism exhibition from 1936 to present. Fini was born in Argentina in 1907. Her mother spirited her away to her Italian homeland of Trieste. For the first seven years of her life, Fini was disguised as a boy whenever she left home to foil the kidnap attempts of her father. Raised by intelligent women and artistic personalities, it was not long before she decided to become an artist. 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 Surrealists that surrounded him. Fini became a sensation not only as an artist but also as a personality. She lived life like an actor in a play, creating a persona of drama, mystery and intrigue. The list of people she knew, collaborated with, or who were influenced by her over the following decades is itself a remarkable inventory of the thinkers and artists of the 20th century: Jean Cocteau, Man Ray, Leonora Carrington, Salvador Dal?, Joseph Cornell, Dora Maar, Anna Magnani, Albert Camus, Jean Genet, Federico Fellini, John Huston, and Georges Bataille, to name only a few. Fini came to incorporate many different lines of inquiry into her art. These were questions of beauty and age; of dark figures in conference that emerge out of murky waters and mottled landscapes; of an inexplicable silence that persists among those who attempt communication; and of the true nature of love and sex. Very few artists could be as simultaneously frank and enigmatic over a seven-decade career.
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