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in Art & the Unconscious Mind/Leonor Fini ~ Painter of the surreal by

La Confiserie (1932)

Leonor Fini (August 30, 1907 – January 18, 1996) was an Argentine surrealist painter.

Life and work

Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, she was raised in Trieste, Italy. She moved to Milan at the age

of 17, and then to Paris, in either 1931 or 1932. There, she became acquainted with, among many

others, Paul Éluard, Max Ernst, Georges Bataille, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Picasso, André Pieyre

de Mandiargues, and Salvador Dalí. She traveled Europe by car with Mandiargues and

Cartier-Bresson where she was photographed nude in a swimming pool by Cartier-Bresson. The

photograph of Fini sold in 2007 for $305,000 – the highest price paid at auction for one of his

works to that date.

She painted portraits of Jean Genet, Anna Magnani, Jacques Audiberti, Alida Valli, Jean

Schlumberger (jewelry designer) and Suzanne Flon as well as many other celebrities and wealthy

visitors to Paris. While working for Elsa Schiaparelli she designed the flacon for the perfume,

“Shocking”, which became the top selling perfume for the House of Schiaparelli. She designed

costumes and decorations for theater, ballet and opera, including the first ballet performed by

Roland Petit’s Ballet de Paris, “Les Demoiselles de la nuit”, featuring a young Margot Fonteyn.

This was a payment of gratitude for Fini’s having been instrumental in finding the funding for

the new ballet company. She also designed the costumes for two films, Renato Castellani’s Romeo

and Juliet (1954) and John Huston’s A Walk with Love and Death (1968), which starred 18 year old

Anjelica Huston and Moshe Dayan’s son, Assaf.

She once said,

Marriage never appealed to me, I have never lived with one person. Since I was 18, I’ve

always preferred to live in a sort of community – A big house with my atelier and cats and

friends, one with a man who was rather a lover and another who was rather a friend. And it has always worked.

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