The Artificial Self/Selves? Unfixed and Manifold Identity in Leonor Fini’s Art and Design

    • IMG_2752
    • Presentation speakers
      • Rachael Grew, Glasgow School of Art, UK


    The work of the artist Leonor Fini (1907-1996) directly engages with performing identity, or rather identities. Fini creates ambiguous and manifold identities in her work by blurring the boundaries between the binary poles of normative femininity, encapsulated in the Surrealist dichotomy of femme enfant versus femme fatale. Fini herself engages in this ambiguity through creating a carefully constructed self-image: she carefully posed for her photographs choreographed her appearances at social events, and her facial features are worn by numerous different ‘types’ of women in her art, thus refuting any fixed labelling of the self to create a fluid, shifting identity. This paper seeks to demonstrate the ways in which Fini challenged normative ideas of the self through an in-depth exploration of two of Fini’s costume projects for the theatre, and the way in which the motifs present in these designs appear across her oeuvre. The correspondences between the different areas of her art and design work demonstrate the dissolution of boundaries between manifestations of the feminine, between genders, and also between concepts of ‘high’ and ‘low’ art forms, ultimately refuting the notion of the fixed, static identity that is so central to heteronormative society.