‘I know I was as good as anybody else in there,’ she said when Samuel Kootz, a New York gallery owner, announced that there would be no women artists in his gallery.
The identity of her father was unknown, her mother worked as a sewing maid. She attended a convent school in Paris for a short time before taking a job in a milliner’s workshop at 11 years old. Suzanne also worked as a funeral wreath maker, a vegetable seller and a waitress while she was still a young child.
When she was a teenager, she befriended artists living in the Montmartre neighborhood of Paris and worked as an acrobat at the Mollier circus. She fell from the trapeze while practicing and injured her back. Her brief stint with the circus was one of her fondest memories.
She was an Argentine-born Surrealist known for her Gothic paintings that explore female sexuality and identity.
As a child, Leonor Fini was fascinated by death and decay and visited the morgue in her town to make anatomy sketches of the cadavers.
She had very little art training and was expelled from a series of schools throughout her youth. She read about art from the books in her uncle’s library, traveled widely and visited museums throughout Europe.
She was an acute and opinionated observer of the people and rapidly changing world around her. Florine Stettheimer was a feminist.
One of her closest friends, Marcel Duchamps, often called her a ‘bachelor’, playing on the French bachelier or ‘new woman’, a term used to refer to early feminists.
Her name means ‘sea pigeon’ in Inuktitut.
She grew up in the traditional life of hunting, gathering and shamans, part of the last generations of Inuit who lived the traditional lifestyles enjoyed by the North American Inuit for centuries.