EYE CANDY

See the Works of Leonor Fini, the Surrealist Female Artist Who Rejected Salvador Dalí

Leonor-Fini_Arcachon_1940_Anonymous_Courtesy_of_Leonor_Fini_Estate.jpg
Courtesy of the Estate of Leonor Fini

It’s hard to imagine not jumping at a personal invitation from Salvador Dalí to join his artist crew in officially pioneering Surrealism, but Leonor Fini, a little-known Argentine-Italian artist, was always one to defy expectations—starting with the sheer fact that she was a woman. While Fini maintained friendships with her almost entirely male artist counterparts, she steadfastly rejected not only the woman-as-muse views of the movement’s leader, André Breton, but also art history’s centuries-old approach to one of its most popular subjects—the female nude. (Not to mention any notions of gender norms, which are, of course, still common to this day.) As much as Fini stood out at the time, however, it’s only now, more than two decades after her death, that the artist is getting her due. Her first American museum survey, “Leonor Fini: Theatre of Desire, 1930–1990,” which is on view at the Museum of Sex, in New York, through March 2019, showcases just how much Fini’s often humorous work differs from your usual erotica; decades before any discussion of the so-called “female gaze,” Fini was known for upending the very concept of the nude in art by objectifying the men, not the women, in her work—an approach since embraced by the likes of Andy Warhol and Madonna. Take a look, here.

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Courtesy of the Estate of Leonor Fini

Photograph of Leonor Fini in Arcachon, 1940. Featured in the exhibition “Leonor Fini: Theatre of Desire, 1930–1990,” on view at the Museum of Sex, in New York, through March 2019.

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Courtesy of Weinstein Gallery, San Francisco

Leonor Fini, The Alcove/Self-Portrait With Nico Papatakis (L’Alcôve/Autoportrait avec Nico Papatakis), 1941. Featured in the exhibition “Leonor Fini: Theatre of Desire, 1930–1990,” on view at the Museum of Sex, in New York, through March 2019.

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Courtesy of Weinstein Gallery, San Francisco

Leonor Fini, The Blind Ones (Les Aveugles), 1968. Featured in the exhibition “Leonor Fini: Theatre of Desire, 1930–1990,” on view at the Museum of Sex, in New York, through March 2019.

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Courtesy of the Estate of Leonor Fini

Photograph of Leonor Fini in Paris, circa 1938. Featured in the exhibition “Leonor Fini: Theatre of Desire, 1930–1990,” on view at the Museum of Sex, in New York, through March 2019.

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Courtesy of the Museum of Sex

Leonor Fini, Male Nude/Portrait of Nico Papatakis (Nu/Portrait de Nico Papatakis), 1942. Featured in the exhibition “Leonor Fini: Theatre of Desire, 1930–1990,” on view at the Museum of Sex, in New York, through March 2019.

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Courtesy of Weinstein Gallery, San Francisco

Leonor Fini In the Tower (Dans la tour), 1952. Featured in the exhibition “Leonor Fini: Theatre of Desire, 1930–1990,” on view at the Museum of Sex, in New York, through March 2019.

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Courtesy of the Estate of Leonor Fini

Photograph of Leonor Fini, Max Ernst, and Enrico Colombotto Rosso in Nonza, Corsica, circa 1965. Featured in the exhibition “Leonor Fini: Theatre of Desire, 1930–1990,” on view at the Museum of Sex, in New York, through March 2019.

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Courtesy of the Estate of Leonor Fini

Leonor Fini, The Botany Lesson (La Leçon de botanique), 1974. Featured in the exhibition “Leonor Fini: Theatre of Desire, 1930–1990,” on view at the Museum of Sex, in New York, through March 2019.

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Courtesy of the Estate of Leonor Fini

Leonor Fini, Woman in Armor I (Femme en armure I), circa 1938. Featured in the exhibition “Leonor Fini: Theatre of Desire, 1930–1990,” on view at the Museum of Sex, in New York, through March 2019.

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Courtesy of the Estate of Leonor Fini

Photograph of Leonor Fini in Nonza, Corsica, 1967. Featured in the exhibition “Leonor Fini: Theatre of Desire, 1930–1990,” on view at the Museum of Sex, in New York, through March 2019.

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Courtesy of the Estate of Leonor Fini

Leonor Fini, Portrait of a Woman With Acanthus Leaves (Portrait de femme aux feuilles d’acanthe), 1946. Featured in the exhibition “Leonor Fini: Theatre of Desire, 1930–1990,” on view at the Museum of Sex, in New York, through March 2019.