New York

Leonor Fini, Divinité chtonienne guettant le sommeil d’un jeune homme (Chthonian Deity Watching over the Sleep of a Young Man), 1946, oil on canvas, 11 × 16 1⁄4".

Leonor Fini

Museum of Sex

“Theatre of Desire, 1930–1990” is the first American retrospective devoted to the Argentinean-Italian painter and illustrator Leonor Fini (1907–1996). Across two floors and sixty years, precious Italianate portraits of friends and lovers morph into macabre fantasies of witches’ sabbaths and half-flayed bodies, crystallizing at last into kinky, acrid-pastel paintings of women and girls locked into flattened, compressed spaces and ambiguous erotic relations. Pornographic illustrations for works by Jean Genet and the Marquis de Sade, costume designs for operas and ballets, and extravagant photo portraits of the artist by George Platt Lynes, Carl Van Vechten, and Henri Cartier-Bresson also texture the exhibition as vivid artifacts of Fini’s social and intellectual milieu.

Born in Buenos Aires, Fini was raised in Trieste, Italy, by her mother, who left Argentina to escape an unhappy marriage.

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