Now is your chance to get intimately acquainted with one of the key figures of Surrealism: this September, we bring you the first-ever major retrospective in Denmark about Leonora Carrington’s magical world.

17 September 2022 to 15 January 2023


Leonora Carrington, Artes 110, 1944. Collection of Pearl & Stan Goodman, lovede gave til NSU Art Museum, Fort Lauderdale, USA © Estate of Leonora Carrington / ViSDA

Mystical witchcraft and sheer zest for life radiate out of the alluring, surreal imagery created by British-born artist Leonora Carrington (1917–2011). Carrington is an overlooked figure in Western art history, although her unique brand of Surrealism exerted great influence on the avant-garde movement and made her an active part of the inner circles of the Surrealist movement. Internationally, interest in the artist is growing apace these years, and in September 2022 ARKEN presents the first major retrospective ever staged in Denmark about Leonora Carrington’s life’s work.

Feminist Surrealism

Leonora Carrington’s world is inhabited by mythological creatures and magical elfin beings in occult underworlds or cosmic spaces. Employing a uniquely poetic visual idiom, Leonora Carrington addresses the human body, psychology and spirituality. Drawing inspiration from alchemy and witchcraft, she expressed herself in a multitude of different media that included painting, sculpture, drawing and tapestries. In particular, Carrington challenged the habitual gaze on the female body, female sexuality and the female psyche. The works depict strong female figures transforming into horses or unicorns as well as wise women showing the viewer the way ahead. The images are enigmatic and full of transformations. Carrington’s dream-like world explores a wide range of narratives, states of mind, and existential relationships between the joys and sorrows of life, speaking poignantly to our imagination and emotions alike.

An uncompromising character

Carrington was an uncompromising and visionary figure who put her freedom above all else. Breaking away from a strict upper-class upbringing in a Catholic family, at the age of twenty she set out for Paris to pursue a life as an artist. Here Carrington became part of the inner circle of the Surrealist movement and embarked on an intense love affair with the painter Max Ernst. During World War II, Ernst fled to New York, and Carrington found her way from war-torn Europe to Mexico, where she settled and became engrossed by Mexican culture and faith. Along with fellow artists Remedios Varo and Kati Horna, Carrington cultivated a shared vision of witchcraft, agency, equality and freedom.


I didn’t have time to be anyone’s muse…I was too busy rebelling against my family and learning to be an artist

Leonora Carrington, 1983


Leonora Carrington, Two Bulls (for Edward James), 1948-58. Private Collection. © Estate of Leonora Carrington / ViSDA

Leonora Carrington, Floripondio on a Snake Bike, 1975. Collection of Pérez Simón. Photo: Rafael Doniz. © Estate of Leonora Carrington / ViSDA

Carrington at ARKEN

Through an extensive series of works, the exhibition LEONORA CARRINGTON unfolds Carrington’s nuanced and experimental practice, her interest in all things mythological and her feminist perspectives. At the exhibition you will be able to view major works from her time in England, where Carrington grew up, important works from private collections that have never been exhibited before, as well as photographs and letters.

LEONORA CARRINGTON will subsequently be shown at Fundación Mapfre, Madrid.

Exhibition organized by ARKEN Museum of Modern Art and Fundación MAPFRE