Leonor Fini (1907-1996, Argentine)

 catsLeonor Fini (1907-1996, Argentine) was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina and raised in Trieste, Italy.  At age 17 she moved to Paris where she became acquainted with many artists such as Max Ernst, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Picasso, and Salvador Dalí all of whom valued the cat’s presence in art. Essentially a self-taught artist, after studying the Old Masters and learning anatomy from studying cadavers, Fini was invited to exhibit in New York at MOMA in 1936.  Not just interested in painting, Fini produced many graphic designs and illustrations.  She also designed costumes for theatre, opera, ballet, and film and even created a bottle for Schiaparelli’s perfume Shocking.

Influenced by Jung and Freud, Fini’s works reflect an interest in dreams, the unconscious, and the psychic metamorphosis of woman and cat/sphinx. However, because of her fierce independence, she refused to label herself as a Surrealist even though she exhibited alongside those involved in the Surrealist movement.

Both sphinxes and cats dominate many of her paintings.  Her works celebrate beautiful independent women often posing with cats, or metamorphosing into them.  By so doing, Fini taps into the ancient bond between cat and woman and the notion of woman as cat, the idea of transfiguration rooted in the cat goddess Bast’s relationship with the Greek goddess Hecate.  Fini’s paintings focus on the complex relationship between the sexes with the female’s domination of a passive and often androgynous lithe male.   

 cats in art

Leonor Fini Photographed by © Martine Franck Courtesy Magnum Photos

 

Not only did Fini paint cats, but she also kept as many as 23,mostly Persians, as her pets.  Sheis quoted as saying, “I’ve always preferred to live in a sort of community – A big house with my atelier and cats and friends…”  Like any cat lover, she let her cats sleep with her and share her meals.  Her guests never dared complain when she generously allowed them to walk over the dining room table in search of tasty tidbits. A friend recalled, “…the cats would come all around her; on the easel, on the bed, on the palate” whenever she painted.  Some of her works were even identified by the stray cat hairs attached to the paint or the odd cat scratched canvas.  Whenever she traveled to the Loire Valley for the summer, her cats accompanied her in their own car.   A good friend of Brigitte Bardot, Fini was active in the French SPA and contributed some of her works to draw attention to the plight of strays.  Fini owned over 50 cats during her lifetime and became distraught whenever one would get sick and never got used to losing one.  She is known to have said, “In every way cats are the most perfect creatures on the face of the earth, except that their lives are too short.” (figures)

Fini died in Paris in 1996; her career had spanned six decades.

 

 

 cats

 

cats in art

Photo by Dora Maar
1936

 

cats

 

Leonor Fini and cat

Leonor Fini sitting in her studio and holding a cat in her lap.
John Phillips, 1947. Source LIFE Photo Archive

 

artists and Cat

Leonor Fini and Cat
Photograph by Marin Frank

 

artists and cats

Leonor Fini
Photograph by Veno Pilon

 

Leonor Fini's studio

Studio ca. 1990

 

Leonor Fini cat paintings

Painting on the Refrigerator

 

 surreal cats

Bosor
1988

 

 Le Chat Lune 1986

Le Chat Lune
1986

 

 cats in art

Woman and Two Cats

 

woman and a cat

Woman and a Cat



 

Leonor Fini Ubu cat

Ubu
1979

 

Leonor Fini cats in surrealsim

Art Odyssey

 

Leonor Fini Dimanche apres-midi (Sunday Afternoon) 1980

Dimanche apres-midi
(Sunday Afternoon)
1980

 

Leonor Fini cats

L’eleve
(The Student)

 

Le Couronnement de la Bienheureuse Feline, 1974

Le Couronnement de la Bienheureuse Feline, 1974
(The Coronation of the Pleased Cat)

 

Leonor Fini La Vie Ideale (The Perfect Life) 1950 cats in art

La Vie Ideale
(The Perfect Life)
1950

 

Leonor Fini Ex Voto 1994 cats in art

Ex Voto
1994

 

Leonor Fini - Portrait de la Princesse Nawal Toussoun (1952) cats

Portrait of Princess Nawal Toussoun
1952

 

Leonor Fini Sphinx for David Barrett 1954

Sphinx for David Barrett
1954

 

Léonor FINI et Les CHATS

Les Chats

 

Leonor Fini woman as cat

Woman as Sphinx

 

Leonor Fini Seven Cats

Seven Cats

 

Leonor Fini Woman and Cats

Woman and Cats

 

Psyche 1975

Psyche
1975

 

passagers du crépuscule1982)

Passagers du crépuscule, 1982

 

Les mutantes 1971 cats in paintings

Les mutantes
1971

 

 Cat Lithograph in color 1980

Cat
Lithograph in color
1980

 

 Joyeuse 1987 cats in art

Joyeuse
1987

 

Leonor Fini Jeune Femme au chat (Young Lady with a Cat)

Jeune Femme au chat
(Young Lady with a Cat)

 

 Chats à cornes - 1983

Chats à cornes
(Cats with Horns)
1983

 

Réflexion - 1983 cats in paintings

Réflexion
1983

 

Peine de coeur - 1983 cats in art

Peine de coeur
1983

 

29 Chats et un oiseau (29 Cats and a Bird) Leonor Fini

29 Chats et un oiseau
(29 Cats and a Bird)

 

Chat au fleurs (Cat and Flowers)

Chat au fleurs
(Cat and Flowers)

 

Chat a Corne (Cat with Horns) Leonor Fini

Chat a Corne
(Cat with Horns)

 

Woman-cat Leonor Fini cats in art

Woman-Cat

 

 

 

Woman and Cat Etching Leonor Fini

Woman and Cat
Etching

 

Etranger pour les etranges 1976 Leonor Fini

Etranger pour les etranges
1976

 

Leonor Fini Etude pour Les Descriptions Merveilleuses Pen and ink wash 1973

Etude pour Les Descriptions Merveilleuses
Pen and ink wash
1973

 

Dominant Cat Leonor Fini

Dominant Cat

 

Cat and Woman Leonor Fini

Cat and Woman

 

Cat Love Leonor Fini

Cat Love

 

Curious Cat Leonor Fini

Curious Cat

 

White Cat Leonor Fini

White Cat

 

Winged Cat Leonor Fini

Winged Cat

 

Witch on a Broomstick Leonor Fini

Witch on a Broomstick

 

The Leopard by Leonor Fini, 1986

The Leopard
1986
Spaightwood Galleries

 

Cat Leonor Fini

Cat

 

Cats Ink Drawing 1974 Leonor Fini

Cats
Ink Drawing
1974

 

Cats Ink Drawing 1988 Leonor Fini

Cats
Ink Drawing
1988

 

Two Cats Ink Drawing 1988 Leonor Fini

Two Cats
Ink Drawing
1988

 

Passion Etching 1986 Leonor Fini cats

Passion
Etching
1986

 

Tete de Chat (Head of Cat) 1984 Leonor Fini

Tete de Chat
(Head of Cat)
1984

 

Passion 2 Leonor Fini

Passion 2

 

Les Etrangers (Chat) 1976 Leonor Fini

Les Etrangers (Chat) 1976

 

Les Chats de Madame Helvetius, by Leonor Fini,

Les Chats de Madame Helvetius

 

Chat Noir Leonor Fini

Chat Noir

 

Leonor-Fini-Carnet-Chats

Carnet Chats

 

Two Cats Dancing Leonor Fini cats in art

Two Cats Dancing

 

cats in art

Cats Dancing

 

Leonor Fini cats in art

Cat

 

cat leonor fini

Cat


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