Leonora Carrington in Spain by Carlos Martin

Curator Carlos Martin will discuss Leonora Carrington’s retrospective in Madrid.

From 9 February to 7 May 2023, the Recoletos Hall at the Mafpre Foundation is hosting the first retrospective in Western Europe that follows the career of this eclectic artist, Leonora Carrington, from her first drawings to her later works. The exhibition has been organised by the MAPFRE Foundation, in collaboration with ARKEN Museum (Copenhagen).

Mary Leonora Carrington (Lancashire, England, 1917 – Mexico City, 2011) was one of the leading artists in the Surrealism movement. Painter, sculptor and writer, among other activities, her professional career was always marked by her biography, which, in the eyes of many, turned her into an eccentric and tragic person. In spite of this, her works are the result of an extraordinary imagination and have a meaning that is not always easy for the spectator to decipher.

The artist’s paintings, tales, poems, tapestries or dresses speak of aspects of the human being that cannot always be reduced to simple words. They focus on abstract concepts, such as fear, pain, joy, surprise or happiness, which fill her artistic creations. Works filled with magic and mystery in which the public can find a free interpretation and a mirror for the present.

Carlos Martín will discuss the contents of the exhibition with a special focus on the time Leonora Carrington spent in a mental institution in Santander (1940), to unveil to what extent that experience is the key to understand part of her future artistic and literary production.


Carlos Martín is an art historian and independent curator. He has served as Chief Curator at Mapfre Foundation and as Curator at the Banco de España Collection. After his Italian training at the Guggenheim Collection in Venice, he developed a special interest in Surrealism and in the relationship between the artists’ visual art and their confessional writings. He has collaborated with museums such as Museo Reina Sofía and Fundación La Caixa and has curated exhibitions such as Miró Poema and the recent retrospective Leonora Carrington at the Arken Museum (Copenhagen) and Mapfre (Madrid). He is currently working on a major retrospective exhibition dedicated to Leonor Fini, along with Tere Arcq.

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