Monday, January 23, 2012

Leonor Fini: Image Unsafe for Work!!

You have been warned! Scroll down a ways on this post and you'll encounter an image that isn't something you necessarily want your office mates to notice. And if at home, you might have to do some splainin' to your spouse or kids.

For those viewers remaining after the mad dash for the exit ...

An artist can't be expected to be as aesthetically pleasing as his subjects; many are not, but some lucky few are. Four years ago I wrote in the 2Blowhards blog about attractive female artists. Included in the write-up were Angelica Kauffmann, √Člisabeth Vig√©e-Lebrun, Berthe Morisot, Elin Danielson, Suzanne Valadon, Elaine de Kooning and Dorothea Tanning. In the present post, I add surrealist Leonor Fini (1907-1996) to the list.

When I was in high school, I checked out a number of 1930s and 1940s vintage library books about Surrealism. But if Fini was ever mentioned or images of her paintings shown, I missed it all. She first came to my attention about two years ago when I noticed this book about her in bookstore art sections.

Fini led a decidedly interesting and unusual life, as the above link associated with her name indicates. As an artist, she strikes me as being competent and imaginative, but not as wild as were leading surrealists such as Dalí or Max Ernst. Like the semi-surrealistic and (in my humble judgment) highly over-rated Frida Kahlo, she included images of herself in many paintings, though not to the extent Kahlo did.

As for her appearance revealed by photographs, I find Fini a very attractive women who wasn't quite classically or even everyday beautiful. The "flaws" were a slightly too-short nose and a slightly too-long distance between her nose and mouth along with a slightly small chin. Altogether, trivial "defects" that, as part of the overall package, gave her a distinctive look that could trigger the hormones of plenty of men, me included.

So let's take a look at some self-images she painted along with a number of photos of her; click on images to enlarge.


Redhead with glasses
This seems to be a self-image by Fini.

Autoportrait au turban rouge - 1938

Autoritratto - 1968

Photo of Fini, possibly by Man Ray - 1936
The web site I grabbed this from claimed the photographer was Man Ray, but the image lacks his expected flair.

Photo of Fini by Dora Maar - 1936
Maar famously was a squeeze of Picasso's. She took in-progress photos of his Guernica.

Photo of Fini by Horst P. Horst - 1946
Horst was a leading fashion photographer of the 1930s.

Fini with a basket as hat

Fini in peasant blouse

Fini at the Museum of Modern Art, New York

Photo of Fini by Georges Platt Lynes - 1936
Sensational image.


Anonymous said...

I found your article pretentious, disgustingly patronizing, and badly written to boot. How amusing that such an ugly man could pick apart the features of a woman like Leonor Fini, who was more woman and more man, and certainly more artist than you will every be. Furthermore, describing the photographer Dora Maar as 'Picasso's Squeeze' was offensive. It was unfortunate that she allowed herself to be psychologically abused and tortured by what I consider a mediocre artist who's genius was in self promotion and promotion of a brutal arrogance as something virile and attractive. I can assure you, that poisonous little man with biting black eyes would not make it to coffee with most women today.

You practically dismiss the female surrealists relative to their male counterparts. This is most backwards and pretentious of you. Having studied the works of both the male and female surrealists, I believe the women sit closer to the well of the unconscious than the men, whose paradigm was too often steeped in their male insecurities and misogyny. Also, Frida Khalo is not overvalued. If anything, Mr. Picasso is, and I felt so from when I was a girl.

It should not astonish you so that women artists would be beautiful, like that tired old nut that beauty and brains are simply too much in one person, and envy of beauty so purile that the person (usually woman's) intellectual and creative gifts are sneered at, as you have done, even as you post an exquisitely beautiful shot of Fini.

I agree with you on your contrarian stance on much of modern art, but here, you betray great ugliness and ignorance and the all too common misogyny, of shall we say delicately, 'unattractive' men....

Or shall I go into a more pointed analysis of your physical faults, as you did with Fini?

Anonymous said...

I agree with anonymous above....

You are free to do what you want, Mr. Pittenger, but try to think before you speak. Try to go a little deeper, or else, stick to critiquing....I don't know......recycling boxes or something of little consequence.

Artists paint to inhabit their soul: try to answer, or at least see from yours...

The only diminishment in this "modern art' *If you insist on categorizing, is in your grey matter.

For me, it is still stunning, powerful, shamanic work.
So, give up contrarianism: try hard-earned optimism or investment- you would get more respect. Contrarianism is parasitic.

Salut Leonor!
Salut Kot, mon oncle!