Elusive about the meaning of her work, Ms. Carrington tired of interviewers who tried to make her an object of fascination.
“Everyone’s had an interesting life,” she told a reporter. “Unless they’re interested in business or something.”
Leonora Carrington was born April 6, 1917, in Lancashire, England, and grew up in a shadow-filled Edwardian mansion called Crookhey Hall. She described her father, a textile magnate, as a philistine who thought that “you didn’t do art — if you did, you were either poor or homosexual, which were more or less the same sort of crime.”
Rebelling at London’s social whirl, she studied art and found a new world when her mother sent her a book about surrealism that featured cover art by Ernst. At a dinner party soon after, they fell instantly in lust and spirited away to Paris and then to Provence.
In her paintings of the era, notably the self-portrait “The Inn of the Dawn Horse,” Ms. Carrington was drawn to images of horses, mostly to depict states of arousal and fertility. Many of her equine-inspired images showed up in a Paris exhibit of surrealist painters in 1938.
The Germans marched into Paris in 1940, and Ernst, whose art had been labeled “degenerate” by the Nazis, was rounded up as an enemy alien and taken to an internment camp.
Alone for months, Ms. Carrington grew despondent and tried to starve herself. She sold her home for a few francs, liberated her pet eagle and drove to Madrid.
“In the political confusion and the torrid heat,” she wrote in her diary, “I convinced myself that Madrid was the world’s stomach and that I had been chosen for the task of restoring this digestive organ to health.”
She became hostile with police at the British Embassy and was committed to an asylum, a period she wrote about in her acclaimed memoir “Down Below.” She was given drugs that caused her to hallucinate and go into spasms.
Her parents sent a guardian to get her, but Ms. Carrington was determined not to return to England. In Lisbon, she escaped by hailing a taxi and asking to be driven to the Mexican Embassy. She married a Mexican cultural attache, Renato Leduc. “It was the only way of getting out,” she later said.
They settled in Mexico City, and the marriage crumbled. Ms. Carrington took up with Emerico Weisz, a Hungarian emigre photographer who had covered the Spanish Civil War. She and Weisz marred in 1946 and had two sons, Gabriel and Pablo. Weisz died in 2007, and the sons survive.
Ms. Carrington counted many European exiles among her friends in Mexico, including surrealist filmmaker Luis Bunuel.
A former Bunuel assistant told the Sydney Morning Herald in 1997 that when the filmmaker visited Ms. Carrington’s home one day, the artist greeted him.
“You look very much like my guardian at the insane asylum,” she said. She proceeded to step into the bathroom and take a shower, fully dressed.
Bunuel was vexed, but he stared at her, thinking, “After all, I am a surrealist, but at what point does it stop?”