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The Tarot of Leonora Carrington
Introduction by Gabriel Weisz Carrington. Text by Susan Aberth, Tere Arcq.
An oracular Surrealism: the debut presentation of Leonora Carrington's recently discovered tarot deck
The British-born artist Leonora Carrington is one of the more fascinating figures to emerge from the Surrealist movement. As both a writer and painter, she was championed early by André Breton and joined the exiled Surrealists in New York, before settling in Mexico in 1943. The magical themes of Carrington’s otherworldly paintings are well known, but the recent discovery of a suite of tarot designs she created for the Major Arcana was a revelation for scholars and fans of Carrington alike. Drawing inspiration from the Tarot of Marseille and the popular Waite-Smith deck, Carrington brings her own approach and style to this timeless subject, creating a series of iconic images. Executed on thick board, brightly colored and squarish in format, Carrington’s Major Arcana shines with gold and silver leaf, exploring tarot themes through what Gabriel Weisz Carrington describes as a “surrealist object.” This tantalizing discovery, made by the curator Tere Arcq and scholar Susan Aberth, has placed greater emphasis upon the role of the tarot in Carrington’s creative life and has led to fresh research in this area.
The Tarot of Leonora Carrington is the first book dedicated to this important aspect of the artist’s work. It includes a full-size facsimile of her newly discovered Major Arcana; an introduction from her son, Gabriel Weisz Carrington; and a richly illustrated essay from Tere Arcq and Susan Aberth that offers new insights—exploring the significance of tarot imagery within Carrington’s wider work, her many inspirations and mysterious occult sources.
Leonora Carrington (1917–2011) was born in Lancashire, England. In 1936, she saw Max Ernst’s work at the International Surrealist Exhibition in London, and met the artist the following year. They became a couple almost immediately. When the outbreak of World War II separated them, Carrington fled to Spain, then Lisbon, where she married Renato Leduc, a Mexican diplomat, and escaped to Mexico, where she became close with Remedios Varo and other expat Surrealists.
The Sun, c. 1955. Oil on board, 6.2 × 5.5”. Private collection. © Estate of Leonora Carrington.
PRAISE AND REVIEWS
If not an oracle, how about consulting tarot cards as conceived by one of the 20th century’s visionary minds? This dreamscape of a book collects the hand-painted Major Arcana set—the 22 most potent, familiar archetypes in the deck—by the artist and writer Leonora Carrington. She was a longtime reader of the cards, but saw them “not as a tool of divination per se, but rather as a guide for the exploration of the psyche,” Susan Aberth and Tere Arcq write in their accompanying essay. “The tarot,” Carrington once said, “is a chameleon.” Conventional exploration being rather limited, the artist’s cards—blank-faced Justice against indigo; Moon, flanked by howling dogs—warrant dropping anchor and staying awhile. Afterwards, for a classic Carrington snack, snip a lock of hair from your bedmate while they sleep and whisk it into an omelette. Stuff of legend.
For Carrington and the surrealists two world wars were proof enough that the world did not operate with anything resembling rationality. Amidst the turbulence of today, perhaps the revival of interest in her and her tarot deck was always on the cards.
[A] revelation, showcasing Carrington’s distinctive approach and style in a series of iconic images that shimmer with gold and silver leaf.
Leonora Carrington’s life was full of twists and turns. She was a celebrated surrealist artist, Max Ernst’s lover and mental-asylum inmate in the 1930s, and then a women’s rights campaigner in 1970s Mexico. With so much drama in her life, it’s not surprising she looked for belief systems. The tarot fascinated her so much she created her own surrealist pack. They lay undiscovered in her archive until a 2018 retrospective in Mexico City and are now gathered in [this] new book
Art & Object
Another portal into the artist’s enigmatic imagination... For Carrington, tarot was more than a divination tool; it was a stimulus to the unconscious mind, “a guide for the exploration of the psyche,” as Aberth and Arcq write. She was a tireless conjurer of subliminal domains. In envisioning tarot, she only continued to transcend the bounds of sense.
It was only in 2017 that [Carrington’s] hand painted deck of tarot cards was unearthed from her archive. Now a new book reveals the creation of her intricate, surrealistic version of the Major Arcana—the tarot’s 22 trump cards depicting the grandest themes and ideas of life, among them love, power and death.
The Tarot of Leonora Carrington shows how she connected her unconscious creative persona with what has been encompassed into multiple tarot books she used as a guide. Designs of the cards and colours of their background give us an inside into Leonora’s head and her understanding of each card. Her cards allow us to dig deeper into ourselves, discover things we never knew about our consciousness.
Carrington’s tarot cards are populated by her characteristically fey figures, often androgynes or human-animal hybrids, set against backdrops in deep, full hues: cobalt, lapis, mulberry, gold. She drew upon archetypal decks including gilded examples from 15th century Italy, the Tarot of Marseilles beloved by many Surrealists, and the popular Rider-Waite deck from 1909. [...] The book’s analysis of drawings and paintings spanning Carrington’s career elucidates that tarot iconography was likewise an animating force in her artwork.
As well as unlocking the secrets to every reader’s fate (if you believe in that sort of thing), the book offers an intriguing new insight into one of the most fascinating minds of the 20th century. The in-depth essay that accompanies the images, by Carrington experts Susan Aberth and Tere Arcq, sees Carrington’s Tarot as a medium (the word here is particularly appropriate) through which to interpret the complex underlying themes of her wider canon of work. But it’s also, quite simply, a beautiful object, its images joyously revelling in their combinations of bright colour, subtle line-drawn textures and shining metallic surfaces. All in all, it’s enough to make you wonder whether, perhaps, we could all do with just a touch more gold leaf in our lives.
Immerse yourself in myths ancient and modern, tantalising Tarot, Jungian archetypes, a history of magic, a dictionary of symbols or maybe just surreal things – let Leonora Carrington be your guiding star when it comes to all things mystical.
A glimpse into new realms...
Germaine Gómez Haro
Leonora Carrington's pictorial universe is populated by intertwined references of an overflowing imagination...
Brings reflections on the artist’s esoteric practice together with a lavish facsimile of Carrington’s private illustrated tarot deck, unearthed by the authors while researching their 2018 exhibition, “Leonora Carrington: Magical Tales,” at the Museo de Arte Moderno in Mexico City.
Reproduces [Leonora Carrington’s] newly discovered illustration of the Major Arcana. The tarot is a chameleon, yes, but as Carrington’s vision of it shows, so, too, is it a chance for both the imposition and the abandonment of narrative; in Carrington’s hands, as with her fiction, there is an embrace of the illogical, the fictive, the dream.
FROM THE ARTBOOK BLOG
CORY REYNOLDS | DATE 1/11/2021
Leonora Carrington's c. 1955 rendering of the zero tarot card, "The Fool," is reproduced from Fulgur Press's highly-anticipated new release, The Tarot of Leonora Carrington—the first presentation of the noted Surrealist writer and painter's recently discovered deck. Featuring a full-size facsimile of Carrington's Major Arcana—the most recognizable and impactful 22 cards of the deck—alongside an introduction by her son, Gabriel Weisz Carrington, and a heavily illustrated essay by art historians Tere Arcq and Susan Aberth, this is one of the hottest titles on our newly-announced Spring 2021 list. Of this particular card, Weisz Carrington writes, "A trickster, one might surmise, is an experiment with a magical self—also found as the court jester, or court dwarf… The trickster is bitten by a ferocious cat or lynx. This character is unaware of the cat biting his leg, he is the incarnation of the unconscious and is oblivious to where he is heading. Obviously, he relates, as many other characters do, to the hidden aspects of the self in each of us." continue to blog
USD $65.00 | CAN $88
Pub Date: 12/20/2022
Active | In stock