I’m reading an analysis of Leonora Carringtons self-portraits by Sissel Lie. The first portrait is the best known:
The last is less known, but it is the focus of my text:
The androgyny in Carringtons paintings is well known. In her first self portrait, we see a hyena that mirrors the artist. The hyena was believed to be intersex because of the large clitoris of the female hyena.
In her last self portrait we see the femaleness abandoned. Carrington has left her draperies, her hat. All that is left is a coatrack. The walking stick is a sign that the femaleness had a limp. Because the person inside might have really been male?
The title is important. What could an orthopedic black tie mean? There is of course no such thing. If you get an invitatian that says «black tie», it is a dresscode. «Orthopedic» is often used about shoes. Orthopedic shoes is made especially for people who have trouble with their feet.
An orthopedic black tie could then be something that helps you with your presentation. Is the item in the painting? No. Neither is Carrington hirself. My guess is that hir has escaped the femaleness, abandoned it, because hir now has an orthopedic back tie.
It reminds me of «Philosophy in the budoir» by Rene Magritte:
While Carringtons femaleness is abandoned, the one in Magrittes budoir waits for someone to get dressed in it.
I love both paintings because they visualize femaleness as something that one dresses in, a mask, a cherade. Something that can be taken off and hidden in a closet, left out in the desert where I feel that it belongs. Unfortunately, one cannot undress one’s breasts for real…
Disclaimer: I have no art education what so ever. My interpretation might be wrong because I don’t know very much about art. All I know, and what is important to me, is how the art speaks to me and how they make sense to me.